Delineating populations is critical for understanding population dynamics and managing habitats. Our objective was to delineate subpopulations of migratory female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the central Black Hills, South Dakota and Wyoming, USA, on summer and winter ranges. We used fuzzy classification to assign radiocollared deer to subpopulations based on spatial location, characterized subpopulations by trapping sites, and explored relationships among survival of subpopulations and habitat variables. In winter, Kaplan-Meier estimates for subpopulations indicated 2 groups: high (S = 0.991 ?? 0.005 [x- ?? SE]) and low (S = 0.968 ?? 0.007) weekly survivorship. Survivorship increased with basal area per hectare of trees, average diameter at breast height of trees, percent cover of slash, and total point-center quarter distance of trees. Cover of grass and forbs were less for the high survivorship than the lower survivorship group. In summer, deer were spaced apart with mixed associations among subpopulations. Habitat manipulations that promote or maintain large trees (i.e., basal area = 14.8 m2/ha and average dbh of trees = 8.3 cm) would seem to improve adult survival of deer in winter.
Additional publication details
Associating seasonal range characteristics with survival of female white-tailed deer