Survival of white-tailed deer fawns on Marine Corps Base Quantico


TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Some jurisdictions in the eastern United States have reduced harvest of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) because of perceived declines in recruitment and population size over the last decade. Although the restoration of American black bears (Ursus americanus) and the colonization of coyotes (Canis latrans) have increased fawn predation in some areas, limited information exists on how temporally dynamic resources and weather influence fawn survival. Therefore, we evaluated fawn survival probability, cause specific mortality, and if factors such as oak (Quercus spp.) mast abundance, winter severity, precipitation, and landscape composition influenced mortality risk on Marine Corps Base Quantico in northern Virginia, USA, from 2008 to 2019. We tracked 248 fawns outfitted with very high frequency radio-collars and predation was the leading cause of mortality (n = 42; 45%). We estimated survival to 133 days and survival pooling all years (2008-2019) was 0.50 (95% CI = 0.42-0.60). Increased annual red oak (Quercus spp.) mast abundance from the previous fall reduced mortality hazard for fawns. The longevity of our study revealed a link between fawn survival and a specific maternal resource (red oak mast) only available during gestation. Our results highlight the importance of oak mast in eastern deciduous forests and, more broadly, overwinter maternal condition on white-tailed deer recruitment.



fawn, oak mast, Odocoileus virginianus, predator, prey, survival, Virginia, white-tailed deer