Date of Award

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Advisor

Lanham, Drew

Committee Member

Yarrow , Greg K

Committee Member

Davis , James R

Committee Member

Bridges , William C

Abstract

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) breeding phenology varies temporally throughout the species' range and is critical to population management and hunter enjoyment. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) demographic and reproductive data, collected primarily from 1970-1992, suggest that 81.86% of conceptions in the Coastal Plain occur between 6 October and 16 November. However, current data regarding conception dates are lacking for a variety of reasons including the current absence of check stations and the use of hunter surveys as the primary means of data collection. To more closely examine recent characteristics of the white-tailed deer breeding season phenology, we collected a total of 274 reproductive tracts from a variety of novel sources in the Coastal Plain of South Carolina including a deer processor, private properties, hunt clubs, and wildlife control operators in residential developments in 2010 (n=152) and 2011 (n=122). We also used 34 known parturition dates from an ongoing fawn mortality study (Savannah River Site, Barnwell County, SC) to determine the date of conception. Our results show that 53.26% of conceptions occurred between 6 October and 16 November and that 29.89% of does had not conceived by 16 November. Conception dates ranged from 31 August to 30 December in 2010 and 10 September to 4 January in 2011. We also calculated fecundity for all pregnant does in our study (n=219) and fecundity by age-class when age was known (n=58). With current economic and logistical constraints limiting the opportunity for the SCDNR to collect reproductive data from deer, alternative methods are necessary to assess the reproductive parameters of the deer herd in a more recent context so that management decisions are based on current data that reflect the dynamic nature of white-tailed deer populations.

Share

COinS