Movement with the Moon: White-tailed Deer Activity and Solunar Events

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) activity patterns are predominately crepuscular. However, the general populace believes that deer activity is also influenced by lunar factors. This belief is demonstrated by the countless "solunar charts" claiming to provide peak periods of deer activity. While research has identified solar and lunar influences on behavioral patterns in some species, descriptions of solunar factors on white-tailed deer are rare. Our goal was to evaluate whether solunar charts can predict periods of increased activity in white-tailed deer. We used 38 adult male, white-tailed deer equipped with GPS collars programmed to collect locations every 30 minutes from Augustâ??December during 2010-2012. Deer were classified as active or inactive based on total distance moved between consecutive GPS fixes. We used logistic regression to estimate the odds of activity dependent on solunar events. Based on our results, on those days furthest from the full or new moon, deer were less likely to be active during moonrise and moonset periods, and more likely to be active during moon overhead and moon underfoot periods. On days with greater proximity to the new or full moon the probability of activity during moonrise and moonset periods increased from 0.384 (SE = 0.005) to 0.564 (SE = 0.010) and 0.403 (SE = 0.005) to 0.591 (SE = 0.011), respectively, while decreasing during moon overhead and moon underfoot periods from 0.540 (SE = 0.005) to 0.413 (SE = 0.011) and 0.516 (SE = 0.005) to 0.305 (SE = 0.010), respectively. Our data suggest events identified by solunar charts have some association with deer activity. However, the relationships between lunar events and lunar phase expressed in solunar charts may be misleading.

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