Behavioral and spatial ecology of white-tailed deer in the big cypress basin of florida
Crawford, Daniel Albert
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White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Big Cypress Basin of Florida encounter a unique set of abiotic and biotic factors, including seasonal flooding and risk of predation, that affect resource selection and space use. Reported declines in local deer populations in recent years warrants renewed focus on the effects of hydrology and predation on deer populations, particularly in light of increased Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) abundance. To assess the effects of predation risk and seasonal fluctuations in hydrology on the behavioral and spatial ecology of deer, I analyzed camera trap and GPS-telemetry data in the context of the white-tailed deer reproductive cycle and conclude that hydrology and risk of predation by panthers profoundly influence deer behavior and space use as deer attempt to forage optimally under the constraints of predation risk and unpredictable temporal variability in resource availability.