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25 September 2019 HABITAT USE AND DIET OF DESERT BIGHORN SHEEP (OVIS CANADENSIS MEXICANA) AND ENDEMIC MULE DEER (ODOCOILEUS HEMIONUS NELSONII) ON TIBURÓN ISLAND, MEXICO
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Abstract

In 1975, wildlife managers reintroduced desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicana) to Tiburón Island, Mexico, where endemic mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus sheldoni) occur. We predicted that these species would use both mountain and plains habitats, but would have different diets, minimizing negative interspecific effects. By censusing pellet groups, we found that both ungulates occurred in both habitats, but bighorn sheep were more abundant in mountains and mule deer were more abundant in plains. Microhistological analyses determined that diets of both species consisted of the same 39 plant species, of which 13 plant species each composed ≥4% of the diet and together composed 70–80% of the total diet. Plants in low abundance represented 26–32% of diets in the mountains and 45–56% of diets in the plains. Overall diet overlap was 68% and overlap did not differ between mountains or plains, but did differ among seasons. Overlap in habitat agreed with predictions, but diet overlap was contrary to our predictions. Our results differ from studies on the mainland, which found overlap in habitat use, but not in diet. Overlap in resource use coupled with the rapid increase in abundance of bighorn sheep since their reintroduction to Tiburón may have an impact on mule deer. Additional research is needed to determine whether abundance of mule deer has changed in response to the reintroduction of bighorn sheep.

Georgina O'Farrill, Rodrigo A. Medellín, Stephen F. Matter, and Guy N. Cameron "HABITAT USE AND DIET OF DESERT BIGHORN SHEEP (OVIS CANADENSIS MEXICANA) AND ENDEMIC MULE DEER (ODOCOILEUS HEMIONUS NELSONII) ON TIBURÓN ISLAND, MEXICO," The Southwestern Naturalist 63(4), 225-234, (25 September 2019). https://doi.org/10.1894/0038-4909-63-4-225
Received: 28 November 2017; Accepted: 30 April 2019; Published: 25 September 2019
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