Behaviour of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus Rafinesque) in winter in relation to the social and physical environment
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AbstractThe behaviour of mule deer was studied from October, 1969 to April, 1970 in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. Deer movements, group dynamics, aggression, activity, and habitat utilization were examined in relation to the social and physical environment, in an attempt to determine the factors which could influence deer behaviour in winter. Social factors appeared to exert a major influence on deer behaviour in early winter. In November, rutting bucks sometimes disrupted the activity of maternal groups, and there was some indication that these groups preferred habitats that provided concealment during the rut, possibly because of such disturbances. Intra-group dominance and examples of potential inter-group dominance were observed during early winter, while inter-class dominance was observed throughout the winter. The activity of members of established maternal groups was reasonably synchronous, but synchrony was less evident in unstable groups. Changes in monthly activity patterns appeared to be associated with alterations in group structure, which were particularly frequent during mid and late winter. The deer's patterns of movement and habitat utilization seemed to follow the law of least effort. In early winter, when forage was readily available, deer moved little and occupied small areas. Movements of bucks during the rut was an exception to this rule. When snow restricted forage availability and deer mobility, the animals moved to habitats where snow was shallowest. The deer appeared to be continually compensating for changes in the environment by altering their pattern of habitat utilization in order to take advantage of areas which provided either food or shelter, or both.
Bibliography: p. 116-124.
CitationBouckhout, L. W. (1972). Behaviour of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus Rafinesque) in winter in relation to the social and physical environment (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/11954
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