Seasonal range analysis for white-tailed deer on the Broad Run Wildlife Research Area
Morris, Karen Irene
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The mixed oak-pine cover type was evaluated as white-tailed deer range on four study areas by measuring dry matter production of key forages and determining their nutrient composition. Composite diets containing plant species which represented the major portions of each seasonal diet as indicated by food habits studies, were mixed for the summer, fall and winter seasons. For the spring flush and spring seasons, individual key forages were analysed. All samples were assayed for soluble carbohydrates, lignin, phosphorus, gross energy, proximate composition, and in vitro dry matter digestibility. Digestible energy production in kcal/ha/day was calculated seasonally for key forages. The ratios of digestible energy available in key forages to that required by the estimated deer herd were 3.01, 5.94, 0.96, 2.14, and 1.23, for the spring flush, spring, summer, fall, and winter, respectively. These ratios indicate the potential of the study areas to support the estimated population density of 1 deer per 16.4 ha. The mixed oak-pine cover type appears to be adequate to support the estimated deer herd if 50 percent of the key forages are consumed seasonally but inadequate if only 25 percent are used. During all seasons, forage protein appeared to be adequate and phosphorus was possibly lower than that required for optimal animal performance.
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