The use of natural shelter by Red deer (Cervus elaphus) in relation to weather in North-east Scotland


  • *Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Banchory, Kincardineshire.


The use of natural shelter in relation to weather by Red deer on open moorland is described. Most shelter-seeking behaviour in winter was associated with the chilling effects of wind. Although deer sheltered from both wind speed and temperature individually, the combined effect of these (i.e. “windchill”) was likely to be most important. The most important individual factor was wind. In winter, resting deer sheltered from the wind by lying on lee slopes, in long vegetation, on dry ground and in places with small amounts of geomorphic shelter; they sought very sheltered places only during blizzards. Deer were found in more shelter as windchill increased, and did not appear to seek constant conditions from day to day. They put up with worse conditions when feeding than when resting. On summer days with high temperatures and strong sun, deer were seen standing when at rest, and were found in the shade, and on wet or bare ground; they also lay in the wind, bathed in water or stood on patches of old snow.