Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Biology (PhD)

Degree Level



Biological Sciences


Douglas James

Committee Member

Marlis Douglas

Second Committee Member

Daniel Magoulick

Third Committee Member

Ragupathy Kannan


Climate Change, Conservation, Habitat, Himalaya, Musk Deer


This dissertation seeks to explore and assess the habitat selection, trophic interactions and distribution of Himalayan musk deer. Chapter one deals with seasonal diet analysis of musk deer along with the overlap in consumption with livestock during summer. Microhistological technique was employed to assess dietary consumption. Results showed that Abies spectabilis, Pinus wallichiana, and Berberis species constituted the major portion of musk deer’s diet. Dietary breadth measured by the Shannon index was found higher in winter compared to summer. Although musk deer and livestock shared a considerable number of plant species in their diets, the consumption however was significantly different in terms of abundance of the species consumed.

Chapter two deals with habitat selection at the 2nd order in terms of physical and vegetational attributes within the home range. It also assesses the impacts of livestock presence in habitat selection of musk deer. Logistic regression of musk deer’s presence/absence with binomial error structure and logit link function was employed to determine the physical and vegetational characteristics that likely affected the habitat selection by musk deer. Results found that elevation, aspect, canopy-cover, and tree species significantly affected the habitat selection of musk deer. Moreover, presence and absence of livestock was not found to have any significant effect on the habitat section of musk deer suggesting the selection as an evolutionary adaptation rather than an outcome of interspecific interactions with the livestock.

Chapter three deals with habitat selection at the scale of geographic range. This chapter seeks to predict the area that is climatically suitable currently and in the future in context of climate change. Maxent modeling technique with occurrence records (i.e., latitude and longitude) of the species and bioclimatic variables as inputs was employed. Annual mean temperature was found as the significant climatic variable affecting habitat selection at the scale of geographic range and the model predicted an expansion of climatically-suitable area at the northern limit of the species’ range in Indian and Tibetan regions. It is expected that the understanding of habitat selection of musk deer at different scales could help in the conservation and management of the species.