Browsing Journal of Range Management, Volume 41, Number 6 (November 1988) by Authors
Habitat selection and activity patterns of female mule deer in the Front Range, ColoradoKufeld, R. C.; Bowden, D. C.; Schrupp, D. L. (Society for Range Management, 1988-11-01)Twenty-two adult, female mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus) were radio-collared with activity sensors and monitored with ground triangulation from mid-November through March, for 3 years (1982-1985) in the foothills west of Fort Collins, Colorado, to test 4 general hypotheses about habitat selection and activity: (1) The proportion of time deer spend feeding and resting varies with time of day. (2) Deer alter their activity patterns in response to environmental influences. (3) Selection of specific vegetation types for feeding and resting varies with time of day. (4) Ecotones are preferred habitats. Deer were monitored during 6-hr sampling periods: sunrise, daytime, sunset, and night. Deer fed most during sunset, night, and sunrise periods and least during the day. Feeding occupied similar proportions of an average deer's time during sunset, night, and sunrise periods. They preferred the grassland type for feeding and resting at night and the mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus) type for both activities during all other periods. Preference deer showed for the ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) type for feeding activity was inversely related to canopy cover. Deer rested most during daytime and night periods. During periods of daylight, deer using the grassland type showed preference for ecotones with certain types offering escape cover. No such preference was observed at night. Deer fed less and rested more when snow depth exceeded 36 cm. No significant differences (P>0.05) in the proportion of time deer devoted to feeding were found in the following comparisons: clear versus cloudy full-moon nights (-50 vs. + 50% cloud cover), full-moon versus new-moon, low versus high wind speeds (0-32 vs. 32-56 km/hr), and warm versus cold temperatures (+18 to -15 vs. -15 to -23 degrees C). No significant relationships were found for the same comparisons in proportion of time devoted to resting.