Deer Use of Riparian Zones and Adjacent Pine Plantations in Texas

We monitored white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) use of riparian zones (RZs) and adjacent pine plantations of 3 age classes (young, 1 -3 years old; intermediate, 5-7 years old; and older, 9-13 years old) using radio telemetry for 2 years on a 1,300- ha study area near Alto, Texas. Riparian zones comprised 22.0% of the area; young, intermediate, and older pine plantations comprised 19.1%, 45.7%, and 13.2%, respectively. Based on data from 4 to 9 deer the first year and 12 to 17 deer the second year, home ranges averaged 103, 71, 95, and 114 ha during spring, summer, fall, and winter, respectively, and were composed primarily of intermediate-age plantations and RZs. Deer showed significant preferences for intermediate-age pine plantations during all seasons and for RZs during fall and winter. Older plantations produced little forage due to canopy closure, and were generally avoided throughout the year. Young plantations, which provided the most forage but the least cover, received relatively light yearlong use and were a minor component of deer home ranges. For females and young males, this study demonstrates that, where available, RZs may comprise an important component of deer home ranges in intensively managed forests.

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