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MIGRATION BEHAVIOR OF WHITE-TAILED DEER UNDER VARYING WINTER CLIMATE REGIMES IN NEW BRUNSWICK

MIGRATION BEHAVIOR OF WHITE-TAILED DEER UNDER VARYING WINTER CLIMATE REGIMES IN NEW BRUNSWICK,DWAYNE L. SABINE,SHAWN F. MORRISON,HEATHER A. WHITLAW,WA

MIGRATION BEHAVIOR OF WHITE-TAILED DEER UNDER VARYING WINTER CLIMATE REGIMES IN NEW BRUNSWICK   (Citations: 18)
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White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) exhibit a variety of migration strategies across northern portions of their range. Factors reported as being responsible for migration initiation have shown no consistent pattern. We monitored 186 radiocollared white-tailed deer from 1994 to 1998 in 2 areas of New Brunswick: a southern area with moderate and variable winter climate and a northern area with consistently severe winter climate. We determined that deer in the south contained a large proportion of conditional migrators (individuals that may or may not migrate to winter range in a given year, and may or may not remain until spring), whereas deer in the north con- sisted almost entirely of obligate migrators (those that annually migrate to winter range for the duration of win- ter). Occurrence of conditional migration appeared to be a function of climate variability, although distribution of the behavior among individual deer was influenced by migration distance. Initiation of autumn migration in the south was related to snow depth for most deer and represented a response to the proximate cue of the onset of limiting conditions. Autumn migration in the north appeared to be a response to seasonal cues, and the direct influence of snow depth was reduced. Initiation of spring migration in the 2 study areas showed a similar pattern. Migration distance may represent a factor influencing distribution of migrational cues among individual deer with- in a population. The effect of winter climate variability on deer migration behavior may account for the disparity in behavior reported in the literature. The differences in migration behavior have implications for deer management surveys in northern areas where deer yarding occurs. Managers have assumed that deer observed during winter surveys were on winter range, but this may not be a reasonable assumption in areas with variable winter climates.
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    • ...The chance of finding better foods elsewhere is also a function of mobility and the types and quality of habitat that an animal is likely to encounter (Sabine et al. 2002)...

    Karen V. Noyceet al. Seasonal migrations of black bears ( Ursus americanus ): causes and co...

    • ...Short-distance movements (which do not involve significant changes in home-range boundaries) are usually related to food availability and occur in regions where seasonal weather changes are mild (Nelson 1998; Sabine et al. 2002)...
    • ...Mixed migration strategies have been well documented among white-tailed deer in northern latitudes (Sparrowe and Springer 1970; Drolet 1976; Nelson 1995; Sabine et al. 2002; Brinkman et al. 2005)...
    • ...Deer typically migrate a single time for the duration of winter (i.e., obligate migration; Sabine et al. 2002)...
    • ...However, during less severe winter weather patterns, northern white-tailed deer may respond by temporarily shifting habitat use within ranges (i.e., resident) or migrating temporarily (i.e., conditional migration) rather than for the duration of the season (Nelson 1995; Sabine et al. 2002; Brinkman et al. 2005)...
    • ...Extreme variation in yearly snow depth has been hypothesized as a primary cause of mixed migration patterns within populations of white-tailed deer (Sabine et al. 2002)...
    • ...Migration behavior can differ among individuals within a deer population, and migratory and nonmigratory deer can inhabit the same seasonal range (Nelson and Mech 1992; Van Deelen et al. 1998; Sabine et al. 2002)...
    • ...We classified individuals as obligate migrators if they made a single movement to winter ranges and subsequently remained there until returning (during spring) to previous summer ranges (Sabine et al. 2002; Brinkman et al. 2005)...
    • ...We classified animals as facultative or conditional migrators (Nelson 1995; Nicholson et al. 1997; Sabine et al. 2002) if they failed to migrate during any documented migration period or if they made several trips to a seasonal home range for <1 month (Nelson 1995)...
    • ...Mean migration distance (19.4 km) of female white-tailed deer in north-central South Dakota was greater than previously documented in eastern South Dakota (10.1 km: Burris 2005) and Minnesota (10.1 km: Brinkman et al. 2005; 14.6 km: Swanson 2005), but was similar to those reported for other northern populations of white-tailed deer (23.2 km: Sparrowe and Springer 1970; 13.8 km: Verme 1973; 17.0 km: Nelson and Mech 1981; 15.7 km: Sabine et al. ...
    • ...In fact, maximum snow depth during our study exceeded 13.0 cm (20.3 cm on 30 December 2006) on only one occasion and was below documented migration thresholds of 30.4 cm (Drolet 1976), 35–40 cm (Nelson and Mech 1981), and 40 cm (Sabine et al. 2002)...
    • ...Median spring migration dates were similar to 19 March – 4 May (Nelson 1995), 4 April (Van Deelen et al. 1998), 11 March – 29 April (Sabine et al. 2002), 8–18 April (Brinkman et al. 2005), 24–25 March (Burris 2005), and 6– 22 April (Swanson 2005)...

    T. W. Grovenburget al. Seasonal movements and home ranges of white-tailed deer in north-centr...

    • ...Such migration is stimulated by decreasing temperature (Kearney and Gilbert 1976) and increasing snow depth (Ozoga and Gysel 1972; Verme 1973; Drolet 1976; Tierson et al. 1985; Sabine et al. 2002)...
    • ...Deer movement becomes significantly restricted and more energetically costly at snow depths greater than 40 cm (Drolet 1976; Parker et al. 1984), and the rate and timing of migration to wintering areas closely correspond with snow depths of 40 cm (Sabine et al. 2002)...
    • ...When and where winter weather is less severe, white-tailed deer overwinter on their summer range, where browse availability is generally higher (Mautz et al. 1976; Lock 1997; Morrison et al. 2002; Sabine et al. 2002)...

    Colin J. Garrowayet al. The quantitative effects of population density and winter weather on t...

    • ...Sabine et al. (2002) found that migratory behavior among a northern (obligate migratory) and southern (conditional migratory) population of white-tailed deer in eastern Canada was largely dependent on winter severity...

    Christopher R. Gaughanet al. Collaboration for community-based wildlife management

    • ...deer, Odocoileus virginianus, of North America (e.g. Sabine et al. 2002)...

    A. HEDENSTRO M. Optimal migration strategies in animals that run: a range equation and...

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