Abstract

Title:  Effect of Density and Supplemental Feed on White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus) Body Size
Author(s): John H. Clark - Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Kingsville; Nathan Cook - Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Kingsville; Timothy E. Fulbright - Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Kingsville; David G. Hewitt - Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Kingsville; Charles A. DeYoung - Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Kingsville; Kim N. Echols - Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Kingsville; Don A. Drager - Comanche Ranch, Carrizo Springs, TX
Year: 2014
Abstract: Body size of mature white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has been shown to be linked to the deer’s early life environment. Furthermore, maternal and grandmaternal nutritional status during gestation plays an important role in individual life development potential. While the effect of the nutritional status of the two previous generations affects an individual’s mature body size, the magnitude of nutritional effects and the effects of deer density are still poorly understood. In 2004 deer were captured from two ranches in South Texas and placed into one of six, 81-ha enclosures on each ranch. Each ranch had a factorial array of three deer densities (10, 25, and 40 deer/enclosure) and two feed treatments (pelleted supplement and no supplement). We captured and harvested deer twice a year from winter 2004-spring 2013 and recorded body measurements for every deer handled. Our objective was to investigate the effect of deer density and improved nutrition on body length and hind footlength; any changes in average deer body size will be a function of the interaction between nutrition, density, and time lag effects from past generations. By using measurements only from deer born into the enclosures, we will gain insight into the effects of early life environment on body size and generational effects of deer management practices on deer body size.

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