Knowledge of how landscape features affect wildlife resource use is essential for informed management. Resource selection functions often are used to make and validate predictions about landscape use; however, resource selection functions are rarely validated with data from landscapes independent of those from which the models were built. This problem has severely limited the application of resource selection functions over larger geographic areas for widely distributed species. North American elk (Cervus elaphus) is an example of a widely-distributed species of keen interest to managers and for which validation of resource selection functions over large geographic areas is important. We evaluated the performance of resource selection functions developed for elk on one landscape in northeast Oregon with independent data from a different landscape in the same region. We compared predicted versus observed elk resource use for 9 monthly or seasonal periods across 3 yr. Results showed strong, positive agreement between predicted and observed use for 2 spring and 3 late summer-early fall models (3-yr r = 0.81–0.95). Predicted versus observed use was negatively or weakly positively correlated for 3 summer models and 1 mid-fall model (3-yr r = -0.57–0.14). Predicted and observed use correlated well when forage was limited (spring and late summer or early fall), corresponding to important biological stages for elk (parturition and breeding seasons). For these seasonal periods, model covariates such as rate of motorized traffic and canopy closure often were effective predictors of elk resource selection. The models we validated for spring and late summer-early fall may be used to evaluate management activities in areas with similar landscape characteristics.
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Vol. 75 • No. 1