Many studies of interactions between exotic and native ungulates have not had temporal and spatial controls nor have they considered the types of competitive interactions that would allow coexistence. For exotic axis deer (Axis axis) and native white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to coexist one species should be superior at interference competition and the other species should be superior at exploitative competition. We generated and tested predictions, based on body size and diet breadth, about habitat selection by white-tailed deer in the presence and absence of axis deer, dominance relationships, and time at sites provisioned with high quality forage. We conducted our study in treatment (axis and white-tailed deer) and control (white-tailed deer only) areas when both species were present and after axis deer were removed. We conducted vehicle surveys to determine habitat use of both species. At provisioned feeding sites we recorded aggressive behaviors and amount of time species spent at feeding sites alone and together. In the treatment area white-tailed deer selection for wooded habitat increased 2.1 times after axis deer were removed, whereas habitat selection by white-tailed deer was constant in the control area over the same time. At feeding sites axis deer were dominant to white-tailed deer; both species spent a significantly greater amount of time alone than at feeders together, but amount of time that individuals of each species spent at feeders did not differ. Axis deer were superior at interference competition, but white-tailed deer were not superior at exploitative competition; thus, species coexistence is unlikely. Whether white-tailed deer are negatively impacted by axis deer at spatial scales larger than our experiment probably depends on abundance of axis deer at larger spatial scales. Experiments of species interactions with temporal and spatial controls that consider types of competitive interactions increase a manager's understanding of when and how native ungulates may be negatively impacted by exotic ungulates.
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Vol. 74 • No. 4