Movement Responses Of White-Tailed Deer To Changing Food Supplies

While studying deer movements and ecology in a logged, floodplain habitat in southwestern Alabama, the investigator noted certain consistent responses by deer to food changes. One radio-instrumented deer shifted her range three times in response to changing food supplies (food plot to ear corn to spring greenery and back to food plot). The shifts were not great in magnitude, but they were distinct and were spread over a nine-month period. Diel movements were very concentrated when food was concentrated, but dispersed when the food supply was dispersed. Two deer were radio-tracked on the clear-cut area during cutting activities. One that was tracked during the summer when food was abundant on the cut area had a limited range and diel movements. The other was tracked during the late fall when food was becoming scarce, and her range was nearly three times as large and diel movements were more dispersed. A deer-activity index was derived by counting the numbers of deer seen at night per mile of travel through the clear-cut and uncut areas. By comparing the seasonal change in index values for the two areas, it was found that deer activity became much more concentrated on the clear-cut area as the food (sprouts, herbs, and woody vines) became more abundant.

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