Abstract

Title:  Stand surveys of white-tailed deer and population estimates using Bowden’s estimators
Author(s): Floyd W. Weckerly, Justin Foster
Year: 2010
Abstract: Providing supplemental feed and managing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on small parcels of land is increasing. Yet, there has been little work addressing how to estimate population abundance and herd composition on small land parcels. We conducted stand surveys of white-tailed deer in a 528 acre enclosure in central Texas in 2007 and 2008 to address two main objectives. One, evaluate a stand survey protocol developed for use on small land parcels and, two, use stand survey data to conduct simulations evaluating the reliability of abundance and sex ratio estimates obtained from Bowden’s estimator. Population abundances, sex ratios, and sighting frequencies of every animal were known. The enclosure had five stands where corn was provided and surveys were conducted at dawn and dusk. The protocol was adequate for observing many deer in populations. We conducted 10,000 bootstrap simulations to evaluate bias and precision of abundance and sex ratio estimates in relation to percentage of population marked, number of surveys, and whether surveys were conducted in the morning, evening, and both morning and evening. Also, abundance was evaluated in relation to whether uniquely marked animals were identified to individual and sex ratio was evaluated in relation to the intersexual distribution of marks. Abundance estimates were less biased and more precise when all marked animals were uniquely identified and 40 – 70 percent of the population was marked. Sex ratio estimates were less biased when 40 –70 percent of the population was marked; however, they were less precise than abundance estimates.

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