Habitat selection and survival of white-tailed deer fawns in a longleaf pine ecosystem
Nelson, Melinda Ann
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This project investigated white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawn behavior and survival at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in southwestern Georgia, which is an 11,735-ha longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forest. I investigated habitat at fawn bed-sites during the first two weeks of life at multiple habitat levels. Fawns’ bed-sites were associated with tall, dense understory vegetation and closed overstory canopies at the microhabitat level, and near edges at the macrohabitat level. Analysis of fawn locations from capture until recruitment into the fall population allowed me to determine that fawn locations were near edges with greater edge density, increased basal area, and far from mixed pine-hardwood habitat. Predation on radio-collared fawns indicated coyotes (Canis latrans) were their primary predator with bobcats having minimal effects. The collective data provide more insight into the effect of coyote predation on fawns and how managers can provide abundant habitat for fawns prior to recruitment.