Spatial use and movement ecology of mature male white-tailed deer in northcentral Pennsylvania
Olson, Andrew Kahl
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Little is known about the ecology of mature (≥ 3-years-old) male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), especially in forested landscapes with minimal human disturbance. I assessed spatial use, habitat selection, and breeding season movements of mature males in a northern hardwood forest in northern Pennsylvania. During December 2011 – April 2012, I equipped 19 mature males with GPS collars programmed to collect hourly fixes throughout the year as well as every 15 minutes from October through December. Home ranges of 15 study animals varied seasonally (fall ¯x= 367 ± 152 ha; winter ¯x = 334 ± 40 ha; spring ¯x = 290 ± 38 ha; summer ¯x = 168 ± 25 ha). Harvested stands and forest openings were important throughout the year. Acorn mast availability during late summer/fall prompted home range shifts to mature oak (Quercus spp.) stands. Mature males moved greater distances during the peak rut and daytime movements increased up to 8 times from pre-rut to rut period. Movement patterns were highly variable among bucks. Nine of the study animals engaged in infrequent, short-term, long-distance movements during spring.