Title:  Monthly nutirtional quality of 3 Florida flatwoods deer forages.
Author(s): Kilgo, J. C., and R. F. Labisky.
Year: 1994
Abstract: A population ecology study of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus .viminianus) on the Osceola National Forest, Florida, initiated to determine the potential of the herd to support the proposed reintroduction of the Florida panther (Felis concolor cowi), included an evaluation of the nutritional quality of forages. Samples of 3 preferred browse species, common gallberry (Ilex plabra), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium mvrsinites), and greenbriar (Smilax laurifolia), were collected monthly from September 1990-August 1991 from the home ranges of 10 adult females to provide an index of overall range quality. Crude protein (CP) and phosphorus (P) content and in vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of the 3 browse species differed among months (P < 0.001). Mean values of all parameters were highest in April (CP--9.2%; P--0.119%; and WOMD-46.3%) (P < 0.05) and declined to lows in fall and winter (CP--6.4%, September; P--0.021%. October; and IVOMD--40.7, January) < 0.05). Nutritional levels of the 3 species were deficient throughout the year with respect to the requirements of white-tailed deer. The low nutritional quality of forages at Osceola likely contributes to the low level of fecundity characteristic of the deer population. Such poor range quality may be inadequate to maintain a density of deer capable of supporting both current recreational harvest and the proposed population of Florida panthers.

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