This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Effects of Abiotic Factors on White-tailed Deer Activity in South Carolina




Goethlich, Jamie

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


A myriad of internal and external factors continuously influence behavior of all animals. One group of environmental factors, abiotic factors (e.g., wind, temperature, and moon phase), are continuously present and constantly changing in the environment of all animals. Actions animals take in response to abiotic factors have the potential to affect their survival and lifetime fitness. Measuring behavioral responses to abiotic factors is an important step in understanding how animals interact with their environment. To investigate how white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Southeast interact with their environment, we affixed GPS collars to adult deer and modeled movement relative to abiotic factors. We observed that weather condition, temperature, wind speed, barometric pressure, moon phase, moon position, and nocturnal brightness affected activity in some seasons and times of day. Responses to abiotic factors were typically less pronounced than circadian fluctuations in activity, and occurred most often during non-peak times of activity.