Modeling white-tailed deer habitat quality and vegetation response to succession and management
Banker, Mark Eugene
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A habitat suitability index (HSI) model for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was tested to determine the relationship between habitat quality predicted by the model and habitat quality suggested by the condition of 1.5 year-old bucks on Quantico Marine Corps Base, Virginia. Additionally, new models were developed that predict the response of habitat variables important to a variety of species to succession and management. Habitat quality predicted by the white-tailed deer HSI model for 11 different deer management units was not strongly correlated with body weight (Spearman's r = -0.40, f = 0.221, n = 11), beam diameter (rs = 0.06, f = 0.851, n = 11), beam length (rs = 0.37, f = 0.265, n = 11), and number of points (rs = -0.24, f = 0.473, n = 11). The area within each management unit with HSI > 0.5 was weakly correlated (rs = 0.48, P = 0.13) with beam diameter and beam length. We attempted to model the response of vegetation to succession and management. The strength of the relationship between habitat changes and stand age (succession) varied depending on the variable and cover type being modeled. R2adj values were highest on average for habitat parameters associated with overstory trees, including basal area, dbh, density, and height. R2adj values were low (R2a~ < 0.5) and regressions nonsignificant (f > 0.10) for models associated with shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. In general, the response of habitat parameters was most predictable in loblolly-shortleaf pine plantations that were hand planted and not subject to the same variation associated with naturally regenerated stands.
- Masters Theses