Rumen Contents of White-Tailed Deer: Comparing Local with Regional Samples

The rumen contents of 384 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) collected seasonally from the Savannah River Project in South Carolina were compared with 184 rumen samples collected from six widely scattered areas throughout the Southeastern Coastal Plain. The two sets of rumina differed significantly in the volume of hardened woody twigs and fungi in the spring, dry leaves and fungi in the fall, and succulent twigs in the winter. The decision to collect local samples or rely on regionwide completed studies will depend on the intensity of management and the feasibility of collecting local information. If data on broad plant categories and plant parts such as green leaves, twigs, and fruits are sufficient for management purposes, regionwide studies can be helpful. If the manager needs data on consumption of individual plant species by deer in his area, local sampling is advisable.

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