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1 November 2006 Relative Density–Physical Condition Models: A Potential Application for Managing White-Tailed Deer Populations
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White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population management is important because of this species' popularity for sport hunting and the ecological and economic damage deer can cause. Relationships between various physical condition metrics, most commonly body mass and antler measures, and estimates of absolute density have been used to develop harvest-management decision models. However, biases in estimating densities among different populations and differences in herd productivity may limit their wide-scale application. We developed models relating 3 commonly used physical parameters (yearling male body mass, yearling female body mass, and antler measures) to relative density (density/K-carrying capacity). We used these models to examine condition and density relationships among 8 populations: 1 in the midwestern and 7 in the southeastern United States. The populations studied spanned several physiographic provinces, had long-term (15- to 31-yr duration, median = 26 yr) harvest data, and varying densities (3–32 deer/km2). Population model slopes were similar with no apparent pattern along a presumed habitat-quality gradient, suggesting that food resources, the range of relative densities, and local genetic variation may be overriding influences. However, slight variation in slopes for yearling male body mass (all between 2% and 4% change in relative density for each 0.4-kg change in mass) among populations suggests that relative density models could have general applicability in the southeastern United States.

PATRICK D. KEYSER, DAVID C. GUYNN Jr., HOKE S. HILL Jr., and W. MATT KNOX "Relative Density–Physical Condition Models: A Potential Application for Managing White-Tailed Deer Populations," Wildlife Society Bulletin 34(4), 1113-1120, (1 November 2006).[1113:RDCMAP]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 November 2006

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