Elk and deer diets in old-growth forests in western Washington

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 



Dietary quality and overlap of sympatric Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti) and Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) were investigated in old-growth forests of the Hoh Valley, Olympic National Park, Washington. Diets of both cervids were comprised mainly of common old-growth flora, particularly in winter. High dietary overlap suggested competitive interactions for food, especially in winter when forage resources were least available. Predominant forages in fall and winter diets seemed to afford little opportunity for cervids to select different plant parts. Crude protein (CP), in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD), and phosphorus (P) in important forages varied with phenology, but seasonal trends were more pronounced for shrubs and grasses than forbs and trees. CP, IVDMD, and P in cervid diets also varied seasonally and usually in the following ascending order: winter, fall, summer, spring. CP and P appeared to be adequate in diets, but low IVDMD suggested that digestible energy was limited. Few significant differences in seasonal dietary qualities were demonstrated between elk and deer. The collective cervid population (and its habitat) in the Hoh Valley is unmanaged and probably at equilibrium with its food resource, or at ecological carrying capacity. Results are discussed in light of herbivore--habitat interactions at equilibrium densities.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Elk and deer diets in old-growth forests in western Washington
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.2307/3801423
Volume 48
Issue 3
Year Published 1984
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 762
Last page 775
Country United States
State Washington