Title:  Managing Sympatric White-Tailed Deer and Sika Deer for Sustained Harvest with Dietary Overlap
Author(s): David M. Kalb - University of Delaware; Jacob L. Bowman - University of Delaware; Deborah A. Delaney - University of Delaware; Randy W. DeYoung - Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Kingsville
Year: 2014
Abstract: White-tailed deer and sika deer have been harvested under separate regulations since the 1970’s. Since the introduction of sika deer there has been concern regarding the interactions between these two species. Our research investigates the overlap in dietary resource use in areas of different relative abundances of deer. When sika deer are the dominant species in the area, they consume 14 different dietary resources with a high grass composition. When sika deer and white-tailed deer are present in roughly equal numbers, sika deer consume a wider range of resources (21), and white-tailed deer consume 34 different resources. Grasses dominated the diet of both species, but may be biased by the consumption of corn through standing agriculture or bait (white-tailed deer ranged from 8- 78% grass consumption). Our data suggest that in the presence of sika deer, white-tailed deer increase their foraging ranges consuming a wide variety of plants. White-tailed deer consume a higher degree of woody plants than sika deer, but showed overlap in 14 of the 34 species consumed including 4 of 6 woody plants (the 4 that dominated white-tailed deer woody plant consumption). White-tailed deer diet was dominated (more than 5% of total diet) by only 8 plants; all of which were also consumed by sika deer. Sika deer diet was dominated by 8 plants (7 of the 8 same plants in white-tailed deer diet). Our data show an intense overlap in resource use between these species, which may be contributing to competition.

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