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Landscape‐level patterns in fawn survival across North America

Journal of Wildlife Management

By:
, ORCID iD , , and
https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21456

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Abstract

A landscape‐level meta‐analysis approach to examining early survival of ungulates may elucidate patterns in survival not evident from individual studies. Despite numerous efforts, the relationship between fawn survival and habitat characteristics remains unclear and there has been no attempt to examine trends in survival across landscape types with adequate replication. In 2015–2016, we radiomarked 98 white‐tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawns in 2 study areas in Pennsylvania. By using a meta‐analysis approach, we compared fawn survival estimates from across North America using published data from 29 populations in 16 states to identify patterns in survival and cause‐specific mortality related to landscape characteristics, predator communities, and deer population density. We modeled fawn survival relative to percentage of agricultural land cover and deer density. Estimated average survival to 3–6 months of age was 0.414 ± 0.062 (SE) in contiguous forest landscapes (no agriculture) and for every 10% increase in land area in agriculture, fawn survival increased 0.049 ± 0.014. We classified cause‐specific mortality as human‐caused, natural (excluding predation), and predation according to agriculturally dominated, forested, and mixed (i.e., both agricultural and forest cover) landscapes. Predation was the greatest source of mortality in all landscapes. Landscapes with mixed forest and agricultural cover had greater proportions and rates of human‐caused mortalities, and lower proportions and rates of mortality due to predators, when compared to forested landscapes. Proportion and rate of natural deaths did not differ among landscapes. We failed to detect any relationship between fawn survival and deer density. The results highlight the need to consider multiple spatial scales when accounting for factors that influence fawn survival. Furthermore, variation in mortality sources and rates among landscapes indicate the potential for altered landscape mosaics to influence fawn survival rates. Wildlife managers can use the meta‐analysis to identify factors that will facilitate comparisons of results among studies and advance a better understanding of patterns in fawn survival.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Landscape‐level patterns in fawn survival across North America
Series title:
Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI:
10.1002/jwmg.21456
Edition:
Online First
Year Published:
2018
Language:
English
Publisher:
Wiley
Contributing office(s):
Coop Res Unit Leetown