Alternative strategies of space use may be present in a species or in a population as a response to different environmental parameters, especially in mountainous habitats, where heavy snowfalls in winter may determine important variations of habitat quality. The spatial behaviour of 20 radiotagged red deer hinds was assessed in a mountainous habitat in the eastern Italian Alps from 2002 to 2004. Two groups of hinds were identified: ‘resident’ females remained in the same area throughout the year; ‘shifter’ females showed separated winter and summer areas. No significant difference was found in seasonal home-range sizes between resident and shifter hinds in 2002 and in 2003. Each year, in summer, home-range quality of shifter hinds was significantly better than that of resident ones, while, in winter home ranges, habitat diversity was similar in the two groups. During the severe winter 2003–2004, 33% of females summering in lower quality habitat died, whereas mild winters did not influence the survival of our collared hinds.
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Vol. 47 • No. 1