Home Range and Habitat Selection of White-tailed Deer in a Pine Savanna Ecosystem

White-tailed deer management and longleaf pine conservation are two high-priority practices for landowners in the southeast. However, it is not fully understood how white-tailed deer use available resources in the longleaf pine ecosystem. While each landowner may have different management priorities, certain land altering practices are prevalent in the southeast. The researchers are focusing on three areas managed with different management objectives. Two of our sites are on Ichauway, in Baker County, GA, and are managed independently for northern bobwhite and longleaf pine conservation. The third study site is the Red Oaks Plantation in Worth County, GA, which is managed intensively for white-tailed deer. Each of our study sites is comprised of 1,000 hectares. The overall goal of this project is to gain a better understanding of how white-tailed deer land use varies due to different land management techniques in the longleaf pine ecosystem.

The specific objectives of this project are to:

  1. Determine the effects of various land management techniques and deer densities on home range sizes.
  2. Investigate seasonal changes in resource use.
  3. Determine the effects of food plot density and distribution on land use of deer.

In the spring of 2016, Michael Biggerstaff and James Johnson darted 15 adult male and 11 adult female white-tailed deer, which were fitted with Lotek GPS collars. These collars allow researchers to remotely monitor movements of individual deer via Lotek’s webservice. All deer were between 2 and 6 years old at the beginning of the study.

This study is a collaboration between The University of Georgia, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
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