Animal dispersal patterns influence gene flow, disease spread, population dynamics, spread of invasive species, and establishment of rare or endangered species. Although differences in dispersal distances among taxa have been reported, few studies have described plasticity of dispersal distance among populations of a single species. In 2002-2003, we radiomarked 308 juvenile (7- to 10-month-old), male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in 2 study areas in Pennsylvania. By using a meta-analysis approach, we compared dispersal rates and distances from these populations together with published reports of 10 other nonmigratory populations of white-tailed deer. Population density did not influence dispersal rate or dispersal distance, nor did forest cover influence dispersal rate. However, average (r2 = 0.94, P < 0.001, d.f. = 9) and maximum (r2 = 0.86, P = 0.001, d.f. = 7) dispersal distances of juvenile male deer were greater in habitats with less forest cover. Hence, dispersal behavior of this habitat generalist varies, and use of landscape data to predict population-specific dispersal distances may aid efforts to model population spread, gene flow, or disease transmission. ?? 2005 American Society of Mammalogists.
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Forest cover influences dispersal distance of white-tailed deer