Home range use and habitat selection by Red deer (Cerrus elaphus) in a Sitka spruce plantation as determined by radio-tracking

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Abstract

The home range behaviour and habitat selection by Red deer (Cervus elaphus L.) in a mixed-age Sitka spruce plantation was studied from1979–82 using radio-telemetry. Females used areas with rides, young replanted and pre-thicket crops, older stands where there were checked trees, more in proportion to availability than old closed-canopy stands, open-hill ground and high-elevation newly-established forest. They used open areas more at night, dusk and dawn, and the more secluded thickets during the day. Compared to females, young males were found more in older stands, high-altitude young plantation and on open-hill ground.

Home range size (406–1008 ha for females and1062–3059 ha for males) was smaller for animals with a high proportion of favourable habitats in their range, although larger range size did not incorporate a higher total area of favourable habitat. Individual ranges overlapped.

Females used the same range from season to season and from year to year. Intensity of range usage is discussed. Males dispersed a mean distance of 15 km from their area of capture during their first or second year of age. One young male used different areas each season after dispersal. Females centred their activity in the same river catchment from season to season, but male activity centres changed from one catchment to another.

Comparison is made with the results of studies of habitat selection in the same forest using dung-accumulation techniques, and with the ranging behaviour of Red deer on open-hill ground.

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