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Keywords:

  • density-dependence;
  • harvests;
  • Odocoileus virginianus;
  • populations;
  • recruitment;
  • sex ratios;
  • stochastic models;
  • white-tailed deer.

Abstract

We simulated dynamics of exploited white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) herds to study effects of harvest strategy on adult sex ratios. Simulations included 5 levels of adult female mortality (0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, and 40%), 3 levels of adult male mortality (35%, 65%, and 80%), and 3 levels of herd productivity (low, medium, and high) for a total of 45 scenarios. Our simulations were based on density-dependent recruitment models. We also examined a model that included stochastic recruitment. Prehunt adult sex ratios remained stable and generally below 3.5:1 (F:M) at lower relative densities and became much wider above about 70% relative density. Declining recruitment at higher densities was the most important factor controlling adult sex ratios. Adult female mortality affected sex ratios more by influencing recruitment than by direct effects of animals removed. Adult male mortality rates were an important factor controlling sex ratios within the context of relative density. Given the importance of managing white-tailed deer herds to achieve a variety of objectives including biodiversity conservation, hunter recreation, and herd quality, it is essential that managers understand the dynamics of exploited herds.