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Keywords:

  • exurban;
  • habitat;
  • modeling;
  • Odocoileus virginianus;
  • Penrose distance;
  • white-tailed deer

Abstract

Several wildlife biologists have developed models of habitat suitability for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Although these analyses have provided insight into factors affecting deer density and distribution over large scales, no studies have modeled habitat use of deer in exurban landscapes. We modeled habitat similarity to areas used most intensively by deer in exurban Carbondale, Illinois, USA, during the fawning (15 May–31 Jul) and winter season (15 Dec–15 Mar). We used >15,000 locations from 20 Global Positioning System–collared female deer tracked during 2003–2005, habitat variables, and the Penrose distance statistic for modeling. A positive correlation with number of dwellings (r = 0.45) and coefficient of variation of forest area (r = 0.16) indicated deer avoidance of areas with increased number of dwellings and variation in forest area during the fawning season. Deer decreased winter use of areas as the diversity of land-cover types (r = 0.64), variation in forest patch size (r = 0.40), and variation of grassland patch size (r = 0.18) increased. Winter habitat use of an area increased as size of forest patch area increased (r = −0.30). This model can be used by wildlife managers to better understand potential deer–human encounters and deer use of the landscape. Alternatively, wildlife managers may use the model to target areas for traditional harvest management or deer removal operations. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.