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1 November 2013 Spatial Ecology of Female Mule Deer in an Area Proposed for Wind Energy Development
Stephen L. Webb, Matthew R. Dzialak, Dean Houchen, Karl L. Kosciuch, Jeffrey B. Winstead
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Development for wind energy is increasing rapidly across the United States, particularly in Wyoming, despite a general lack of information on the potential interaction development could have on wildlife species. Therefore, knowledge of the space use and movement patterns of individuals can help define spatial distributions and management unit boundaries for populations prior to development. Such knowledge can also be used as baseline data from which to assess any future impacts on animal populations. We investigated the spatial ecology of female mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus; n = 18) equipped with global positioning system collars from 23 February 2011 to 15 January 2012 in an area along the Wyoming–Colorado border that has been proposed for wind energy development. The objectives of this study were to collect predevelopment baseline estimates of annual and seasonal home-range and core area size and fidelity, movement between seasonal ranges, changes in the use of elevation, and movement patterns at 2 temporal resolutions (i.e., within-season diel patterns and year-round diurnal and nocturnal movements by week). Annual size of home ranges averaged 2495 ha (SE = 121), whereas size of core areas averaged 310 ha (SE = 30). Seasonal site fidelity was substantial (81.1%, SE = 5.7) between successive cool-season ranges. Migration distances between cool- and warm-season home ranges were minimal (spring migration = 1319 m; autumn migration = 1342 m). Deer exhibited crepuscular movement patterns (peaks near 06:00 and 18:00) during the warm season but showed a diurnal movement pattern during the cool season (peak from 06:00 to 15:00). Partuition influenced movement during the warm season; movement was much reduced during a period from mid-June to mid-July Deer in this population appear to be year-round residents that exhibit strong seasonal and annual fidelity to previously established ranges and modify movement patterns in relation to general changes in environmental conditions (e.g., snow). These findings can be used to define seasonally important ranges and formulate boundaries and sizes of game management units. Understanding fine-scale temporal movement allows the development of strategies that could minimize disturbance to deer while allowing for development or recreation.

Stephen L. Webb, Matthew R. Dzialak, Dean Houchen, Karl L. Kosciuch, and Jeffrey B. Winstead "Spatial Ecology of Female Mule Deer in an Area Proposed for Wind Energy Development," Western North American Naturalist 73(3), 347-356, (1 November 2013).
Received: 14 May 2012; Accepted: 30 May 2013; Published: 1 November 2013

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