Accepted Manuscripts / Winter resource selection by female mule deer: ...
Winter resource selection by female mule deer: effects of spatiotemporal changes in habitat
Eric D. Anderson, Ryan A. Long, M. Paul Atwood, John G. Kie, Terry R. Thomas, Peter Zager & R. Terry Bowyer
Populations of mule deer Odocoileus hemionus have declined throughout most of their historic range in recent decades, and habitat alteration has been hypothesized as one potential cause of those declines. Consequently, understanding how patterns of behavior change as landscapes are altered through time may provide important insights into mechanisms underlying observed demographic trends in mule deer populations. We examined resource selection in relation to habitat change by mule deer on the Tex Creek winter range in southeastern Idaho, USA. We created a GIS-based map of habitats available to mule deer during two time periods, historical (1980s) and current (2007-2009), to document changes in habitat over time. We then modeled historical and current patterns of resource selection by mule deer based on locations obtained from visual observation, radiotelemetry, and global positioning system (GPS) collars. We documented an increase in grasslands and a decrease in agriculture associated with private landowners participating in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Habitat types were key predictors for distribution of mule deer on winter range. We documented an increase in the importance of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) to mule deer during winter as the relative abundance of agricultural land declined. Juniper (Juniperus spp.)-dominated stands were highly selected, whereas aspen-dominated stands generally were avoided during winter. Based on our findings, we recommend that caution be exercised in the removal of juniper from winter range.
Key words: Habitat change, Idaho, mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus, odds ratio, resource selection function