Selection of parturition sites by migrating and dispersing female white-tailed deer in Illinois

Charles M. Nixon, Philip C. Mankin, Dwayne R. Etter, Lonnie P. Hansen, Paul A. Brewer, James E. Chelsvig, Terry L. Esker, Joseph B. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Emigration behavior by female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is an important attribute of population dynamics in Illinois. The factors influencing the process of select-ing a new home range arelargely unknown, yet may affect hunting success, other interac-tions with human activities, anddeer social behaviors. Twenty-five radio-marked dispers-ing (N = 14) and migrating (N = 11) female white-tailed deer (4adults, 7yearlings, 14 fawns when marked) were followed from 3sites (2in central and 1in northern Illinois) to the home ranges selected for parturition and fawn rearing. Dispersing deer (i.e.,those making one-way movements to a new home range) moved an average of 44.9 ± SE6.4 km whereas migrators (i.e., those moving to a new range) moved 14.0 ± SE7.2 km from their natal ranges. Females moved rapidly in nearly a straight line to their new home range readily crossing roads, rivers, and under high tension power lines on their journey. Females marked in east-central and northern Illinois whereforest cover totaled 5% of the landscape, selected sites with greater forest cover, grasslands, forest patch size and density, and total patch richness than were available in random locations. Habitats selected by females in west-central Illinois where more forest cover was available did not differ from random sites. Parturition ranges (used May 15–July 15) at all 3 sites con-tained fewer houses and roads and more forest patches compared with the natalranges and the larger new range (used May 15–October 1). Migrating females survived longer than dispersing females, but female life spanand fawn survival were not significantly affected by the habitat composition of the new home ranges.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129--143
JournalTransactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2012


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