Roe deer Capreolus capreolus food and feeding habitat selection was studied by snow tracking on transects along an altitudinal gradient in Flatdal, the county of Telemark, south-central Norway, during winter 1979/80. The main food was bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus (36.8%), rowan Sorbus aucuparia (24.4%) and arboreal lichens Alectoria sarmentosa, Bryonia spp., Hypogymnia physodes, Usnea spp. (17.4%), which were also the only preferred food plants. The amount of food removed from the field layer was stable through the winter. Roe deer used the lower part of the study area most heavily. At lower altitudes, older mature stands and edges between medium-aged stands and clear-cuts/plantations were preferred, pole-sized stands and edges between older mature stands and clear-cuts/plantations were used as expected from their availabilities, whereas medium-aged stands, clear-cuts and young plantations were avoided. That snow depth was an important factor determining habitat use by roe deer was evident in three ways: 1) use of areas at higher elevations decreased as winter progressed, 2) use of mature forest stands increased from early to late winter relative to open habitats, and 3) use of mature forest stands was more extensive at higher than at lower elevations compared to open habitats.
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Vol. 3 • No. 3/4