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Thursday, August 9 • 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Space Use 2 Track: Seasonal Diet and Habitat shifts of Kashmir Musk Deer in Temperate Kashmir Himalayas

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AUTHORS: Riyaz Ahmad, Wildlife Trust of India, and Nature Conservation Foundation, Karnataka, India; Yash Veer Bhatnagar, Charudutt Mishra – Nature Conservation Foundation, Karnataka, India, and Snow Leopard Trust, Seattle, WA

ABSTRACT: Kashmir musk deer is confined to a small geographic range and nothing is known about its ecology1. We studied seasonal food habits and habitat use of musk deer in a temperate system. The study was carried out in Kazinag NP during two contrasting periods – resource limited, snow bound and least disturbed winter and also resource abundant but highly disturbed summer. We expected diet shift and altitudinal migration by the musk deer to adapt to the extreme weather. We recorded elevation, slope, aspect, vegetation variables (vegetation type, vegetation cover) and the snow cover, at each sighting to examine altitudinal migration of musk deer. We assessed the diet of musk deer through pellet analysis and direct observations. Musk deer primarily occurred at higher elevations (with average elevation above 3100 m) during summer and primarily used alpine meadows, subalpine scrub and subalpine forest (about 70% of sightings). It partially migrated to middle elevations (with average elevation below 3100 m) during winters. Musk deer used areas with high snow cover (average 50%) and low emergent ground plant cover (with average plant cover 30%) during winter but occurred along mixed forest and woodland (more than 60%) to seek shelter and forage in snow. The seasonal shift in diet by musk deer to conifers and monocots was surprising. In summer, it fed on forbs and shrubs (95%), but in winter it also fed on conifers and monocots, which made up about 40% of its diet. These adaptations have probably helped musk deer persist through the harsh winters and enabled it to widely use subalpine and alpine habitats of the Himalaya.

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Thursday August 9, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Assembly Hall B

Attendees (2)