Because there is a paucity of information on the mineral requirements of free-ranging deer, data are needed from clinically healthy deer to provide a basis for the diagnosis of mineral deficiencies. To our knowledge, no reports are available on baseline hepatic mineral concentrations from sympatric white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) using different habitats in the Northern Great Plains. We assessed variation in hepatic minerals of female white-tailed deer (n=42) and mule deer (n=41). Deer were collected in February and August 2002 and 2003 from study areas in Custer and Pennington Counties, South Dakota, in and adjacent to a wildfire burn. Hepatic samples were tested for levels (parts per million; ppm) of aluminum (Al), antimony (Sb), arsenic (As), barium (Ba), boron (B), cadmium (Cd), calcium (Ca), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), lead (Pb), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), mercury (Hg), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), selenium (Se), sodium (Na), sulfur (S), thalium (Tl), and zinc (Zn). We predicted that variability in element concentrations would occur between burned and unburned habitat due to changes in plant communities and thereby forage availability. We determined that Zn, Cu, and Ba values differed (P≤0.05) between habitats. Because of the nutritional demands of gestation and lactation, we hypothesized that elemental concentrations would vary depending on reproductive status; Cd, Cu, Ca, P, Mn, Mo, Na, and Zn values differed (P≤0.05) by reproductive status. We also hypothesized that, due to variation in feeding strategies and morphology between deer species, hepatic elemental concentrations would reflect dietary differences; Ca, Cu, K, Co, Mo, Se, and Zn differed (P≤0.05) between species. Further research is needed to determine causes of variation in hepatic mineral levels due to habitat, reproductive status, and species.
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