Abstract

Title:  Acorn preferences of white-tailed deer: a preliminary report
Author(s): Anderson, 0. F., P. E. Hale, and A. S. Johnson
Year: 1991
Abstract: Acorns constitute a seasonally important food source for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Southeast. However, chemical analyses indicate differences in nutritional quality among species. We attempted to determine preferences of white-tailed deer for acorns of 8 important southeastern oak species. We presented acorns to 6 individual captive deer in 2 feeding trials in 1989 and repeated the tests with 6 different deer in 1990. White oak ((hercus alba), chestnut oak (g. winus), scarlet oak (q. coccinea), and northern red oak Q. rubra) comprised a group of upland oaks particularly important in the Southern Appalachians. The other group we tested was comprised of some of the important bottomland oaks and included overcup oak (Q. lvrata), swamp chestnut oak Q. michauxii), and Shumard oak (Q. shumardii). Sawtooth oak Q. acutissima), an exotic widely planted for wildlife, also was included in this group. In each trial deer were presented 800-1,100 grams of each acorn species in the group being tested. Acorns were presented in individual pans for 24 hours. White oak was preferred clearly among the upland species. An average of 57% of the white oak acorns presented was consumed, whereas mean consumption of the other species in this group ranged from 13% to 19%. Sawtooth oak acorns appeared slightly more desirable than the native bottomland species tested. An average of 36% of sawtooth oak acorns presented was consumed. Mean consumption of the other species in this group ranged from 10% to 25%. There appeared to be some differences in acorn preferences among individual deer.

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