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Research Abstract from Tim Hiller's PhD Work


Tim Hiller's PhD Dissertation















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WELCOME to the south-central Michigan white-tailed deer research project WEB SITE. This web site is designed to educate and inform people about the complex issues related to white-tailed deer research and management in south-central Michigan.


Assessments of demographics and space use are important for habitat and harvest management of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). These population characteristics often vary across a landscape, and by age (e.g., fawn, yearling, adult) and sex class. Knowledge of demographics and space use of young fawns is particularly limited, despite the potential for recruitment having a relatively large influence on deer population dynamics.

Project objectives were to describe age-specific survival, cause-specific mortality, and space use in an agro-forest ecosystem undergoing increasing urbanization (i.e., increasing housing developments, increasing human population) in south central Michigan. Sixty-six deer were captured, radiomarked, and monitored during winter and 34 neonates during spring 2004–2006. Annual survival varied by age class (fawn = 0.51, yearling = 0.94, adult = 0.56), and annually based sources of mortality were primarily vehicle collisions (fawns) and hunter-harvest (adults). Two- and 6-month postcapture survival estimates of neonates were 81% and 67%, respectively, and canids caused most mortalities during both time periods.

Yearlings had larger seasonal home ranges (agricultural growing season: average size = 0.78 square miles; non-growing season: average size = 0.61 square miles) than either fawns (0.23 sq. mi.; 0.45 sq. mi.) or adults (0.30 sq. mi.; 0.54 sq. mi.). Home ranges for fawns 0–2 months old averaged 0.16 sq. mi., with conifers and lowland deciduous forests selected in proportions higher than available on the study area. Adult female deer had relatively small home ranges compared to deer in other Michigan studies indicating that their habitat components were readily available. Additionally, this sex-age class is of primary interest to managers desiring to reduce high deer numbers.

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