Abstract

Title:  Quantifying the Effects of Coyotes on Vigilance Behavior in White-tailed Deer
Author(s): D.S. Steakley, Mississippi State Univerisity; M.A. Lashley, Mississippi State University; M.C. Chitwood, University of Montana; C.S. DePerno, North Carolina State University; C.E. Moorman, North Carolina State University
Year: 2017
Abstract: Abstract Predation risk may be perceived differently by the sexes because of differing vulnerability associated with sexual dimorphism in white-tailed deer. However, little attention has been given to how the sexes differ in behavioral adjustments to predation risk. In an ongoing long-term landscape-scale experiment, we are using camera traps to monitor the responses of male and female white-tailed deer to experimental coyote removals in a before-after control-impact design. Each August for 3 years, we quantified male and female vigilance rates at 10 sites with 10 cameras at each site covering 160,000 acres at Fort Bragg Military Installation in North Carolina. In year 4, intensive coyote trapping was implemented over half of the study area including 5 of the camera trapping sites or a total of 50 camera locations. Currently, over 300 coyotes have been removed from the treatment area. During August in the past 2 years, we continued to monitor vigilance of each sex on trapped and control sites which will allow us to quantify vigilance behavioral adjustments of each sex to decreased predation risk from coyotes. Preliminary data indicate that females were 29% more vigilant than males but data following coyote removals have not been analyzed. We hypothesize that vigilance behavior in females will be more sensitive to changes in predation risk because of the overall larger proportion of the female time budget allocated to vigilance. Thus, we expect vigilance levels between males and females to become more similar as predation risk decreases.

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