Seasonal Feeding Habits Of White-Tailed Deer In Southern Maryland

Food habits of white·tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were studied on a 526·ha mixed forest-grassland site at Blossom Point, on the coastal plain of Maryland. The rumen contents of 2 deer shot per month for a year and a winter browse survey were used to define seasonal variations in plant species utilization. Mushrooms and the fruits of dwarf sumac (Rhus copallina) and oaks (Quercus spp.) were utilized in the fall. In winter, a large portion of the diet was Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana), honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), and rushes. In the spring, a shift to herbaceous material occurred, although red maple (Acer rubrum) flowers, rushes, and Virginia pine were browsed moderately. During the summer. honeysuckle and blackberries (Rubus spp.) were the most important food species, comprising 45% of the summer diet. Deer have a profound impact on the growth of waxmyrtle (Myrica cerifera) since 60% of the branches were browsed in winter. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) , red maple. and dogwood (Corn us florida) were also browsed at this time. Plant species from a variety of habitats are important food resources to Blossom Point deer.

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