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A Weather Severity Index on a Mule Deer Winter RangeLeckenby, D. A.; Adams, A. W. (Society for Range Management, 1986-05-01)Temperature, wind, and snow conditions predictably affect the nutrition, behavior, distribution, productivity, and mortality of free-ranging cattle and big game in winter. Indexing of data obtained with commonly available weather instruments to reflect episodes of positive and negative energy balances of free-ranging ruminants could aid scheduling of feeding programs and planning of cover-forage manipulations. Such a weather severity index was developed and tested over 11 winters. Plausible levels of stress and episodes of relative severity were depicted during winters when mule deer exhibited low, moderate, and high mortality. The index curves mirrored over-winter declines of fat reserves probably sustained by mule deer. Lesser weather severity was predicted and measured in a western juniper woodland than in an adjacent rabbitbrush steppe community in southcentral Oregon.