We documented cover characteristics at white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus dakotensis) bedding and feeding sites on winter and summer ranges in the central Black Hills, South Dakota and Wyoming. Radiolocations of female (2,592; n = 73) and male (573; n = 12) deer were compared with 1,087 random locations. Characteristics of cover recorded at deer and random locations included basal area, point-centered quarter distance, density of tall shrubs and saplings, and available hiding (horizontal) cover. On winter range, females selected areas with lower levels of hiding cover than males, whereas habitats selected on summer range were similar. On winter and summer ranges, females bedded in areas with greater hiding cover than feeding or random sites. Three principal components (interpreted as hiding cover, thermal cover, and radiation cover) differed with respect to season and explained 78.5% of the variation in cover characteristics. In winter, males had higher scores for hiding cover, while females had higher scores for radiation cover. Conversely, during summer, females had higher scores for hiding and thermal cover. Results were compared to the reproductive-strategy (RSH) and predator-avoidance (PAH) hypotheses, which attempt to explain sexual segregation in ungulates. Univariate results indicated the sexes occupied habitats with similar cover characteristics on summer range but not on winter range. Therefore, we rejected the RSH for summer range but were unable to reject the RSH for winter range. Also, hiding cover was of greater importance to males on winter range and females on summer range. Based on these results, we rejected the PAH for winter range but were unable to reject the PAH for summer range.
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