We used satellite land cover data and the program FRAGSTATS toquantify land cover types and calculate the amount of forest edge available in suburban and rural regions of northeastern and northwestern Massachusetts. Cover categories included forest cover, open canopy vegetation, and non-deer habitat. We calculated all edge segments where forest cover abutted open canopy cover. Our open canopy vegetation category was calculated both with and without low intensity suburban development. We then compared these findings to movement data from 53 (13 males, 40 females) adult radio-marked white-tailed deerOdocoileus virginianusmonitored biweekly and diurnally from January 2001 to January 2003. The range of movements of suburban deer in eastern Massachusetts showed no difference to that of suburban deer in western Massachusetts (P = 0.7). However, the ranges for suburban deer in both eastern and western Massachusetts were 10 times less than those of deer in rural western Massachusetts (P = 0.001).Our findings suggest that landscape configuration, as described by the amount and distribution of edge due to suburban development, which is related to the amount and distribution of resources such as food and cover, affects migratory behavior of white-tailed deer, allowsdeer to have smaller ranges, and contributes to high deer densities.Inclusion of suburban edge in habitat models will increase our understanding of deer-habitat relationships for management of deer in urbanizing environments. ?? 2005 Springer Science + Business Media, Inc.
Additional publication details
Movement patterns of rural and suburban white-tailed deer in Massachusetts