Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Michael R. Pelton

Committee Members

David Buehler, Joe Clark, John New


An elk Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) model was developed to study the feasibility of reintroducing elk (Cervus elaphus) into Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), TN and NC. The variables and indices identified in the model were the result of data gathered from: (1) a literature review, (2) field tours, (3) interagency discussions, and (4) on-site data collection and evaluation. The model was subdivided into forest area and open area, each having a separate set of variables. The model for forested area was based on evaluation of three variables associated with food and water, one to evaluate cover requirements, one related to topography, one related to interspersion of cover types, and three related to human influences. The model for open areas was based on evaluation of two variables for food and water, one related to cover, one associated with topography, and three related to human influences. Suitability index curves were assigned to each variable.

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