Defecation frequency in Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in relation to the accumulation rates of faecal deposits



Average defecation frequencies of Roe deer in Britain seem to vary from around 17 faecal deposits/deer/day in ‘poor’ habitats to about 23/deer/day in ‘good’ habitats. Although it is not yet known if there are appreciable seasonal variations, these average values can be used in estimating site occupation and population density from observations on the rates of accumulation of faecal deposits in sample areas of ground. The ‘faecal accumulation method’ requires semi-permanent plots which are first cleared of old faeces and then checked after a set time to measure the accumulated new deposits. Uncorrected measurements can be used as comparative indices of animal abundance, but being able to convert them into more meaningful units is of greater value in ecological studies.