ECOLOGY OF THE DESERT MULE DEER IN BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TEXAS (PREDATION, HABITAT, DIET).
AuthorLEOPOLD, BRUCE DAVID.
KeywordsBig Bend National Park (Tex.)
Deer -- Ecology -- Texas -- Big Bend National Park.
Mule deer -- Ecology.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDesert mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus crooki) abundance and distribution, deer activity and diet, fawn survival, and predation were studied in Big Bend National Park, Texas from 15 January 1980 to 9 December 1981. Deer abundance was correlated with total plant, forage, and succulent densities but was also related to perennial water abundance and bed site availability. Fawn production and survival were related to spring rainfall. Diurnal and annual deer activity were influenced by temperature where spring and winter had longer daily activity compared to summer. Daily activity by deer was highest during the morning and evening. Forage use varied seasonally with browse use decreasing from spring to winter with a corresponding increase in use of forbs. Diets of two deer herds were compared and during drought periods forb use decreased until summer rains occurred. Prior to the rains, deer relied on evergreen browse species. Additionally, deer within mesic areas had a higher use of forb species contrasted with deer within xeric areas. Predator diet significantly changed with a decline in the deer population determined from pellet-group transects. Mountain lions (Felis concolor) used smaller prey including javelina and lagomorphs. Coyotes (Canis latrans) fed opportunistically by increasing use of insects, birds, reptiles, and lagomorphs. Bobcats (Lynx rufus) increased use of lagomorphs with little change in other prey species. Given alternate prey species, predator populations remained relatively constant given the deer decline.
Degree ProgramWildlife, Fisheries and Recreational Resources