Factors Influencing Reproductive Success and Camera Survey Efficiency of White-tailed Deer
Type of Degreethesis
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
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This study was two-fold, and was conducted on a 174-ha fenced enclosure. First, we examined reproductive success of male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), where recent research has begun to shed light on the fact that younger, smaller, subdominant males regularly participate in breeding. Through genetic herd reconstruction, we examined factors that influenced reproductive success. Between August 2008 and September 2012, we captured a total of 138 individual deer and used microsatellite analysis to assign paternities. We assigned 78 paternities at the 95% confidence level and an additional 26 at 80% confidence with program CERVUS. Using a Poisson regression model, we found that age, antler size, and body size were all associated positively with number of fawns sired. Certain body and antler measurements proved to be better predictors of breeding success than others. We also found that the impact of age on male breeding success was influenced by male age structure, where the relative importance of an increase in sire age decreased as male age structure increased. Secondly, we examined methods for increasing efficiency of camera surveys for white-tailed deer. During September and October 2010 we completed 2, 7-day camera surveys after a 5-day pre-bait period to compare the efficacy of a camera set on a 10-minute-delay placed beside one with a 5-minute-delay. Then during September 2011, we surveyed for 15 days to examine the necessity of prebaiting. We suggest that increases in the delay period of an infrared-triggered camera can reduce the number of images, and thus processing labor, without negatively impacting the number of different individuals detected; however, elimination of a pre-baiting period may negatively influence the efficacy of camera surveys.