Bed site selection by neonate deer in grassland habitats on the northern Great Plains

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 



Bed site selection is an important behavioral trait influencing neonate survival. Vegetation characteristics of bed sites influence thermal protection of neonates and concealment from predators. Although previous studies describe bed site selection of neonatal white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in regions of forested cover, none determined microhabitat effects on neonate bed site selection in the Northern Great Plains, an area of limited forest cover. During summers 2007–2009, we investigated bed site selection (n  =  152) by 81 radiocollared neonate white-tailed deer in north-central South Dakota, USA. We documented 80 (52.6%) bed sites in tallgrass–Conservation Reserve Program lands, 35 (23.0%) bed sites in forested cover, and 37 (24.3%) in other habitats (e.g., pasture, alfalfa, wheat). Bed site selection varied with age and sex of neonate. Tree canopy cover (P < 0.001) and tree basal area (P < 0.001) decreased with age of neonates, with no bed sites observed in forested cover after 18 days of age. Male neonates selected sites with less grass cover (P < 0.001), vertical height of understory vegetation (P < 0.001), and density of understory vegetation (P < 0.001) but greater bare ground (P  =  0.047), litter (P  =  0.028), and wheat (P  =  0.044) than did females. Odds of bed site selection increased 3.5% (odds ratio  =  1.035, 95% CI  =  1.008–1.062) for every 1-cm increase in vertical height of understory vegetation. Management for habitat throughout the grasslands of South Dakota that maximizes vertical height of understory vegetation would enhance cover characteristics selected by neonates.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Bed site selection by neonate deer in grassland habitats on the northern Great Plains
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.2193/2009-399
Volume 74
Issue 6
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher The Wildlife Society
Publisher location Bethesda, MD
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 7 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Wildlife Management
First page 1250
Last page 1256
Other Geospatial Great Plains
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