To understand the relationship between behavioral expression of Père David's deer and environmental elements, we carried out an experiment in the Dafeng Père David's Deer Nature Reserve, China. From May to September 2001, we observed maintenance behavior and rut behavior in free-ranging Père David's deer. During behavioral observations, we also recorded the type of habitat in which the behavior occurred. Statistical analysis showed that: (1) Père David's deer tended to stand, sit and ruminate in barren land, a water body and the muddy shore of a pond. (2) Père David's deer foraged in grassland and forested land. (3) Père David's deer stags expressed the marking and display components of rut behavior more often in water body and wetland than in grassland and forest. Our data indicated that Père David's deer is a typical ungulate species living in wetland and selects different habitats to express different behaviors. We discuss the possible reasons for Père David's deer to choose specific habitats to express behavior. We suggest that, in ex situ conservation of Père David's deer, environmental prerequisites for behavioral expression should be considered. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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