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Monday, August 6 • 4:30pm - Friday, August 10 •12:00pm
Student Poster: Panhandle Mule Deer: A Survey of Body Condition and Size, Reproductive Output, and Antler Growth

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AUTHORS: Levi J. Heffelfinger, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Laura S. Warner, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; David G. Hewitt, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Shawn S. Gray, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Warren C. Conway, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University; Timothy E. Fulbright, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Randall W. DeYoung, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Loius A. Harveston, Borderlands Research Institute, Sul Ross State University

ABSTRACT: Historically, Texas mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) were most common in the Trans-Pecos, but population numbers have dramatically increased in the Panhandle. Little is known about mule deer population structure in the Panhandle and how the agriculture-rangeland habitat structure affects population performance. Here, we evaluate body condition and mass, antler size, and lactation status of mule deer in 3 regions throughout the Texas Panhandle. We captured 74 adult male, 81 adult female, and 123 juvenile mule deer during autumn of 2015 – 2017. Though age structure was consistent across sites, morphometric measurements varied greatly. On average, adult (over 3 year old) males in the southwest Panhandle had greater body mass (114 kg SD=11 vs. 90 kg SD=29), had more rump fat (28 mm SD=10 vs. 22 mm SD=7), and larger antlers (142 in. SD=20 vs. 103 in. SD=26; B&C score) than deer in the southeast Rolling Plains and northern Canadian River breaks. Adult females were larger in the southwest Panhandle (70 kg SD=11 vs. 62 kg SD=13) and lactated at a higher rate (0.50 vs 0.25), however, there was no difference in rump fat measurements. Juvenile size and body mass did not vary between years and sites and overall observed antler growth was 30 B&C inches per year averaged across all age classes. Our data show high heterogeneity in population health indices across the Texas Panhandle. Creating baseline population measures will aid in establishing an adaptive management plan as mule deer population levels in the Panhandle continue to increase.

466842 pdf

Monday August 6, 2018 4:30pm - Friday August 10, 2018 12:00pm
Assembly Hall Foyer

Attendees (2)