This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Survival of Adult White-tailed Deer and Movement Relative to Temporal Patterns of Predation Risk




Wiskirchen, Kevyn, H.

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


Estimates of survival and cause-specific mortality are important tools for guiding management decisions of game species. Concerning the management of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), region-specific information is needed as survival is highly variable across the species’ wide geographic distribution. Hunter attitudes and selective preferences can also vary considerably between public and private lands, creating the potential for vastly different deer population demographics within a region. We monitored the survival of adult white-tailed deer on public and private lands in Alabama to address a lack of available information within the southeastern United States. Survival did not vary between land-ownership types, despite more restrictive harvest regulations on public land. Our results likely reflect the growing involvement by private-land hunters in Quality Deer Management programs, where self-implemented harvest restrictions may be in excess of state regulations. Additionally, little is known regarding the capability of large ungulates to discern temporal patterns of predation risk, which is foundational to our understanding of predator-prey interactions. We placed global positioning system (GPS) collars on adult white-tailed deer to monitor their behavioral response to temporal patterns of recreational hunting. Deer responded in a manner reflecting the presence of hunters on the landscape, demonstrating the capability of large ungulates to accurately detect environmental threats, and employ avoidance strategies to reduce the likelihood of predatory encounters.