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Keywords:

  • dispersal;
  • fidelity;
  • home range;
  • management;
  • Odocoileus virginianus;
  • Texas;
  • white-tailed deer

Abstract: The scale at which populations use landscapes influences ecological processes and management. We used dispersal and home-range data of 3 age groups of male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to determine the scale at which management will be effective. Home-range size at 5.5 years of age (182 ha ± 24.9 SE) was 56% smaller (P < 0.001) than home-range size of the same 13 males as yearlings (416 ± 59.4 ha). Percent overlap of yearling and 5.5-year-old home ranges was 62.7 6 10.3% (n = 13). Distance between home-range centers of yearling and mature deer was 1,264.9 ± 407.4 m, including 3 deer that dispersed after 2.5 years of age. Average 95% fixed-kernel home-range size was 207.4 ± 20.4 ha and 225.7 ± 30.1 ha for all mature males in years 1 and 2 of our study, respectively. We found that properties >10,000 ha were needed to manage >50% of original yearling males found on the property, whereas properties of 4,500 ha would maintain 50% of original middle-aged (2.5-4.5 yr of age) and mature males (≥4.5 yr of age). Movements after dispersal were minimal, with deer shifting their center of activity <600 m and <350 m each year for middle-aged and mature males, respectively. These data could be used by managers developing management plans, recommending harvest rates, and interpreting harvest data of male white-tailed deer and by biologists attempting to understand ecological processes such as spread of disease.