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Factors affecting space use overlap by white-tailed deer in an urban landscape

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Variation in the size and overlap of space use by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has broad implications for managing deer-human conflicts and disease spread and transmission in urban landscapes. Understanding which factors affect overlap of home range by various segments (i.e., age, sex) of an urban deer population has implications to direct contact between deer on disease epidemiology. We assessed size of home range and overlap of space use using the volume of intersection index (VI) for deer in an urban landscape by sex, age, season, and time of day. We found mean space use was larger for males than for females, for males <3 years old than for males ≥3 years old, and during nocturnal hours compared with diurnal hours. We also identified larger space use by both sexes during the nongrowing than the growing season. Overlap of space use for female and male deer in our urban landscape differed considerably depending on demographic (i.e., age) and environmental variables (i.e., time, season). For example, highest mean VIs occurred between 6-year-old females (mean = 0.51 ± 0.10) and 5- and 6-year-old males (mean = 0.49 ± 0.14); no mean VI was greater than 0.31 between females and males for any age combination. Variation in overlap of space use for urban deer provides new information for managing deer-human conflicts and direct transmission of disease between various segments of a deer population in an urban landscape.

Keywords: Odocoileus virginianus; fixed kernel; home range; nocturnal; season; space use; volume of intersection; white-tailed deer

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, CO, USA 2: Missouri Department of Conservation, Wildlife Research Center, Columbia, MO, USA 3: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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