Year of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department or School/College
W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation
Dr. Joshua J. Millspaugh
Dr. Chad J. Bishop, Dr. Michael S. Mitchell
white-tailed deer, survival, Missouri, resource selection, hunting season, neonates
University of Montana
Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Missouri are a socially and economically important game species generating annual revenue in excess of $1 billion. The last comprehensive deer study in Missouri was conducted in the 1980s – 1990s when deer populations were rapidly expanding. Since this time there has been a reduction in deer population size, declining growth rates, changes in harvest strategies, and the emergence and spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). These changes have rendered prior survival estimates outdated, and the presence of CWD requires a deeper understanding of movement patterns and space use. We were interested in providing updated deer survival rates, and quantifying how deer altered their movements and resource selection during two critical time periods in the Glaciated Plains (GP) and Ozarks (OZ) eco-regions. Two contrasting study areas allowed us to understand how land use and ownership, harvest regulations, and habitat composition and fragmentation affected deer survival and behavior.
In Chapter 1 we estimated neonate (≤ 16 weeks old) survival rates and determined how habitat characteristics influenced neonate survival. In Chapter 2 we investigated how pregnancy, parturition, and lactation affected deer movement behaviors and resource selection. In Chapter 3 we estimated annual female fawn (> 6 months, but < 1 year old), yearling (1 year old), and adult (≥ 2 years old) survival rates, and investigated how the hunting season affected female movement behaviors and resource selection. Survival rates of all age classes were similar between the two eco-regions, with neonate survival rates between 0.40 – 0.50, and survival rates for females > 6 months old between 0.80 – 0.90. Females in both study areas altered their movements similarly in response to parturition, and selected for conservation reserve program grasslands in the GP, and forest habitat in the OZ during pregnancy and lactation. Females in both study areas increased their movements during the hunting season, and altered their resource selection after the hunting season, suggesting that breeding behaviors and resource availability were influencing deer behavior during this time period.
Wright, Chloe A., "Survival, movements, and resource selection of female white-tailed deer in Missouri" (2018). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 11135.
© Copyright 2018 Chloe A. Wright