Habitat usage by red (Cervus elaphus) and roe (Capreolus capreolus) deer in a Scottish Sitka spruce plantation



Habitat usage in a 1825 ha block of mixed-age forest was assessed by counts of accumulated pellet groups on permanent plots. This monitoring took place from 1978 to 1984 with some 300 plots in 13 types of habitat. Tests on the method are described; losses of pellet groups were insufficient to bias the conclusions.

Usage was least in the forest stages lacking ground vegetation, i.e. thicket, pole and high-canopy forest; stages with ground vegetation had moderately heavy usage. The most preferred habitats were of small extent, treeless, and situated near or within closed forest, i.e. rides, openings and the margin between forest and unplanted hill ground. Red and roe deer showed broadly similar patterns of preference but differed significantly in the use of some habitats. Thickets received more use from red than roe deer, whereas pre-thicket and vegetated high-canopy forest had most use from roe deer, being richer in forbs on which this species feeds heavily.