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Monday, August 6 • 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Population Estimation 1 Track: Adult Female Survival and Population Dynamics of White-tailed Deer in Louisiana, USA

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AUTHORS: Rebecca M. Shuman, University of Georgia and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Michael J. Cherry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Taylor N. Simoneaux, University of Georgia; Elizabeth A. Dutoit, University of Georgia; John C. Kilgo, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station; Michael J. Chamberlain, University of Georgia; Karl V. Miller, University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: Recent studies on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) neonates in the southeastern U.S have indicated that rates of survival have declined in some areas. Vital rates, including adult female survival, fecundity, and neonate survival, can have varying effects on population growth, and few studies have used field-based vital rates to conduct sensitivity analyses or model deer population trajectories under potential changes in survival rates. Restoration of large carnivores, such as the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus), may contribute to decreased survival rates, and managers are interested in the long-term effect of restoration efforts on the sustainability of deer populations. During 2013-15, we radiocollared and monitored 70 mature (≥2.5 years) and 21 yearling (1.5 year-old) female deer on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana, USA (TRNWR). Annual survival averaged 0.815 (95% CI = 0.734-0.904) for mature females and 0.857 (95% CI = 0.720-1.00) for yearling females. Using observed values of neonate survival, female survival, and fecundity data from TRNWR, we estimated an increasing population trajectory (λ = 1.043). We modeled low, medium and high values for these parameters and determined that survival of mature females was the most elastic vital rate. For potential harvest intensity scenarios, we projected the population for 10 years using observed vital rates. Projections for 0% (λ = 1.126) and 10% hunting mortality (λ = 1.041) predicted increasing populations, whereas 20% (λ = 0.959) and 30% hunting mortality (λ = 0.878) resulted in population declines. Reductions in neonate survival led to population declines (λ = 0.950), but elimination of female harvest offset declines (λ = 1.037). Our results suggest that deer populations on TRNWR are sustainable under current harvest guidelines. If neonate survival decreases, reductions in female harvest or predator populations may be necessary. Therefore, managers will need to balance public perception and acceptance, economics, and population dynamics when assessing potential management strategies.

Monday August 6, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm MDT
Long Peaks Lodge - Diamond E&W

Attendees (5)