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Habitat Use by Sympatric Mule and White-Tailed Deer in ... - BioOne

Habitat Use by Sympatric Mule and White-Tailed Deer in ... - BioOne

Habitat Use by Sympatric Mule and White-Tailed Deer in ... -

Research ArticleHabitat Use by Sympatric Mule and White-TailedDeer in TexasKRISTINA J. BRUNJES, Department of Range, Wildlife, and Fisheries Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USAWARREN B. BALLARD, 1 Department of Range, Wildlife, and Fisheries Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USAMARY H. HUMPHREY, Texas Park and Wildlife Department, Sonora, TX 76950, USAFIELDING HARWELL, Texas Park and Wildlife Department, Kerrville, TX 78028, USANANCY E. MCINTYRE, Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USAPAUL R. KRAUSMAN, School of Natural Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USAMARK C. WALLACE, Department of Range, Wildlife, and Fisheries Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USAAbstractWhite-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and mule deer (O. hemionus) occur sympatrically across much of the central and westernUnited States, including portions of west Texas. Fluctuations in populations of both species and the potential for interspecificcompetition indicate a need for information to aid in management of sympatric populations. We evaluated the role of vegetation andtopography on habitat use by sympatric deer in west-central Texas using a geographic information system. We captured andradiocollared 50 female mule deer, 53 female white-tailed deer, and 18 males of each species, and we monitored habitat use fromFebruary 2000 to August 2002 in west-central Texas. Mule deer primarily used juniper (Juniperus spp.)-dominated habitats andhabitats with elevations .870 m. White-tailed deer home ranges primarily occurred in mesquite (Prosopis spp.)-dominated areas atelevations ,840 m. However, overlap did occur, because individuals of both species used or avoided specific areas. Males of bothspecies avoided areas with dense vegetation, including those containing permanent water sources, but females of both speciesselected such areas, particularly during summer fawning. We did not always detect the same differences observed on the smallercore area (50% kernel home range) scale at the larger home range level, indicating that individuals made decisions about habitat useat different spatial scales. Given the differential importance of various vegetation associations to the establishment of core areas ofeach sex and species, maintenance of a mosaic of vegetation, particularly in lower-elevation areas and in proximity to food andpermanent water, is necessary for managers to perpetuate coexistence of both species. Managers should target habitat conditionsof overlap areas, particularly in core areas, for determination of potential limiting factors for both species since competition is mostlylikely to occur in these areas. (JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 70(5):1351–1359; 2006)Key wordscompetition, compositional analysis, habitat use, mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus, O. virginianus, sympatry, Texas, whitetaileddeer.White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and mule deer (O.hemionus) occur sympatrically across much of the central andwestern United States. In west Texas, USA, the ranges ofdesert mule deer (O. h. eremicus) and white-tailed deer (O. v.texanus) overlap in portions of the Trans-Pecos region,along the western edge of the Edwards Plateau, and in thePanhandle (Smith 1987). In some of these areas, whitetaileddeer are more abundant in areas traditionallyconsidered desert mule deer habitat (Harwell and Gore1981), possibly due to changes in vegetation resulting fromlivestock production (Baker 1984). Simultaneously, muledeer have decreased or disappeared entirely from some areaswhere the distribution of white-tailed deer has expanded(Wiggers and Beasom 1986). Conversely, in southeasternArizona, USA, habitat alteration from livestock has createdconditions that favor mule deer expansion into areas onceinhabited only by white-tailed deer (Anthony and Smith1977). There have been reports of potential resourcecompetition for other sympatric herds (Martinka 1968,Anthony and Smith 1977, Krausman 1978, Wood et al.1989).1 E-mail: warren.ballard@ttu.eduHabitat use and selection of both species have receivedrelatively little study in sympatric areas of west Texas.White-tailed deer preferred areas with greater woody coverin areas of the Trans Pecos, with .20 deer/km 2 of bothspecies (Wiggers and Beasom 1986). However, we did notdetect differences in vegetation parameters between locationsof each species in areas ,20 deer/km 2 . In south Texas,white-tailed deer densities averaged ,4 deer/km 2 whentotal brush cover was ,43%, whereas densities of 19 deer/km 2 occurred when brush cover exceeded 60% (Steuter andWright 1980). Furthermore, heavily used portions of thehome ranges of allopatric adult male white-tailed deer hadgreater woody canopy cover and horizontal screening coverthan unused portions (Pollock et al. 1994). Traditionalmanagement strategies regarding habitat manipulations formature males recommended creation or maintenance ofareas with dense woody canopy cover, a high number ofwoody species, and dense horizontal screening cover(Pollock et al. 1994).Research has suggested that local differences in topographyare a landscape feature that drives habitatpartitioning by sympatric deer (Kramer 1973, Krausman1978, Wiggers and Beasom 1986). On the western edge ofBrunjes et al. Habitat Use by Sympatric Deer 1351

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