Get access

Phenotypic and reproductive variation in female white-tailed deer: The role of harvest and environment

Authors

  • Bronson K. Strickland,

    1. Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, Box 9690, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Stephen Demarais,

    1. Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, Box 9690, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Phillip D. Jones,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, Box 9690, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
    • Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, Box 9690, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Chad M. Dacus

    1. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, 1505 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS 39211, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Associate Editor: Scott McCorquodale

Abstract

Animal density and stochastic environmental events affect physical development and recruitment of cervids. Biologists who manage cervid populations based on a density-dependent paradigm may need to also consider environmental effects. We analyzed 12- to 25-year time series of 3 harvested white-tailed deer populations in Mississippi to determine the relative influence of harvest and environmental factors on female reproduction and phenotypic quality. Using simple and multiple linear regression, we related body mass of 1.5-, 2.5-, and ≥3.5-year females, and 2.5- and ≥3.5-year percent lactation to variables representing deer harvest, growing season precipitation and temperatures, high-quality agronomic plantings, and flooding events. Response across populations varied greatly, with harvest variables explaining most, some, or no variation in body mass and percent lactation. Biologists should consider the potential influence of environmental factors on phenotypic and reproductive variation when making management decisions. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary