Habitat use patterns of sympatric deer species on Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Colorado

  • Whittaker D
  • Lindzey F
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Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and white-tailed deer (O. viginianus)
have been studied extensively as individual species throughout their
respective North American ranges. However, comparatively little is
known about interactions between these closely related species where
they occur sympatrically. We studied spatial and habitat use patterns
of sympatric mule deer and white-tailed deer at 3 hierarchical scales
on Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA), Colorado, USA using radiotelemetry.
Similarities in annual spatial distribution analyses (coarse scale)
and diet composition analyses (fine scale) suggested the 2 species
may have been competing for space and forage on RMA. However, seasonal
differences in habitat use patterns resulted in spatial segregation,
thereby allowing the 2 species to coexist. Mule deer used habitats
primarily based on forage availability and secondarily for cover.
White-tailed deer used habitats primarily based on availability of
security cover. Habitat management and restoration efforts should
consider maintaining existing composition and juxtaposition of vegetation
associations that allow species to maintain seasonal allopatric distributions
and, subsequently, coexistence. Increased deer population levels
may lead to increased interactions between species. [Journal Conference
Paper; 40 Refs; In English; Summary in English]

Author-supplied keywords

  • competition; habitat; mule deer; Odocoileus hemion

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  • D G Whittaker

  • F G Lindzey

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