Most studies on the relationship between home-range size and composition focus on natural factors, whereas effects of anthropogenic factors are poorly understood. I evaluated effects of multiple natural and anthropogenic habitat factors, population density, and sex on the annual home-range size of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in well-preserved forest areas in the Dinaric Mountains of Slovenia, Europe, based on >11,000 telemetry locations from 17 males and 25 females. Home ranges were 90–2,107 ha and averaged 460 ha. Using a mixed linear model, I estimated that home-range size decreased with increasing 1) red deer density, 2) supplemental feeding intensity, and 3) average annual temperature; 4) home-range size increased as the distance of main roads from the edge of the home range increased; and 5) males had a larger home range than females (580 ha versus 400 ha). These results were explained by effects of food availability (1, 2, and 3), energy expenditure of an individual (4 and 5), intraspecific interactions (1 and 5), and size of unfragmented habitat patches (4) on home-range size. To my knowledge, this is the 1st large mammal study to explicitly show that the density and spatial distribution of roads and supplemental feeding affect home-range size of red deer and that humans can have a greater impact on home-range size and shape than natural habitat factors. Ungulates are often supplementally fed to increase their value to hunters and to reduce forest damage, particularly in Europe; however, this practice can greatly reduce the home-range size, potentially leading to increased disease transmission and competition associated with the higher deer densities around feeding sites, which can result in just the opposite of what was intended.
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Vol. 93 • No. 4