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1 May 2007 Survival of White-Tailed Deer Fawns in Southern Illinois
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Survival of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawns has been quantified throughout much of North America. However, few studies have assessed the influence of intrinsic factors (e.g., fawn age and birth mass) and habitat on fawn survival. During 2002–2004, we captured and radiocollared 166 fawns in southern Illinois, USA, to estimate survival rates, determine causes of mortality, and identify factors influencing fawn survival. We used a known fates model in program MARK to estimate survival rates and compare explanatory models based on Akaike's Information Criterion corrected for small sample sizes (AICc). We developed 2 candidate sets of a priori models to quantify factors influencing fawn survival: model set 1 included intrinsic factors and model set 2 focused on habitat variables. We recorded 64 mortalities and the overall survival rate was 0.59 (95% CI = 0.51–0.68). Predation was the leading source of mortality (64%) and coyotes (Canis latrans) were the most prominent predator. For model set 1, model {Sage×year} had the lowest AICc value suggesting that the age at mortality varied among capture years. For model set 2, model {Slandscape forest} had the lowest AICc value and indicated that areas inhabited by surviving fawns were characterized by a few large (i.e., >5 ha) irregular forest patches adjacent to several small nonforest patches, and survival areas also contained more edge habitat than mortality areas. Due to the magnitude of coyote predation, survival areas could have represented landscapes where coyotes were less effective at locating and capturing fawns when compared to mortality areas. This study was the first account of macrohabitat characteristics directly influencing fawn survival. Wildlife managers can use this information to determine how habitat management activities may affect deer populations.

JOHN H. ROHM, CLAYTON K. NIELSEN, and ALAN WOOLF "Survival of White-Tailed Deer Fawns in Southern Illinois," Journal of Wildlife Management 71(3), 851-860, (1 May 2007).
Published: 1 May 2007

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