Date of Award
Master of Science
I studied population demographics and space-use of white-tailed deer in Manistee and Mason counties in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan during 2005-08. Deer density from spring spotlight distance sampling surveys was 20.1 ± 1.7 deer/km2. The sex ratio was 14 bucks:100 does and the age ratio was 84 fawns:100 does. I radiomarked and monitored 105 does (62 adults and 43 fawns) for survival and space use. Annual adult survival was 0.74 ± 0.06, with most mortalities (n = 8 of 23) caused by human harvest. Adult survival was the highest during winter (1.00) and lowest in autumn (0.81 ± 0.08). Winter/spring fawn survival was 0.74 ± 0.06, with all mortalities caused by predation (n = 4) and starvation (n = 3). Mean size of composite home-ranges and core-areas were 2.0 ± 0.1 km2 and 0.4 ± 0.02 km2, respectively, and did not differ seasonally. Cover-type use did not differ seasonally between home ranges and core areas, indicating that deer did not select specific cover types within their home range. Vegetated openland and mast-producing upland forests received the highest proportion of use in home ranges (47% and 23%, respectively) and core areas (49% and 21%, respectively). These data will be beneficial for modeling deer population growth and response to harvest and to focus habitat management prescriptions for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.
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