Visual Estimation of Biomass and Application of Three White-tailed Deer HSI Models in Suburban Habitats

We describe a new, non-destructive procedure for visually estimating forage biomass based on volumetric cover. The accuracy of this procedure was tested against actual dry biomass by clipping and weighing 41 plots of wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera). Visual estimates of forage biomass were significantly related (P ≤ 0.001) to actual biomass determine by clipping (r2 = 0.925; y = 16.36 + 2.52 X, where y = dry biomass and X = volumetric cover). We developed this procedure to apply 3 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) habitat suitability index (HSI) models to a suburban development. The 3 traditional HSI models evaluated did not include several variables unique to developed areas that could affect deer habitat quality. Therefore, the models may need to be modified before they can be applicable in developed areas.

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