Daily Movements of Female White-tailed Deer Relative to Parturition and Breeding

To assess how white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) herd demographics influence reproductive behaviors, we examined 24-h diel movements of female white-tailed deer relative to parturition and breeding in a low-density population with a near even sex ratio at the Savannah River Site (SRS), South Carolina. We conducted a series of intensive, 24-h radio-tracking periods of 13 females during spring and fall 2002. We compared daily range (ha), rate of travel (m/h), and distance between extreme daily locations (m), among the periods of pre-parturition and post-parturition and pre-, peak-, and post-rut. From pre-parturition to post-parturition, we observed decreases in diel range size (-38.2%), distance between extreme diel locations (-17.0%), and diel rate of travel (-18.2%). Diel range size, distance between extreme diel locations, and diel rate of travel during the pre-rut and rut exceeded those observed during post-rut. We further identified substantial increases in mobility during 12 24-h diel periods for eight females during our fall monitoring. Our data suggest that female white-tailed deer reduce mobility post-fawning following exaggerated movements during pre-parturition. Furthermore, despite a near equal sex ratio, estrous does may be required to actively seek potential mates due to low population density.

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ID
4213