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Forage Use, Water Consumption, and Productivity of Pronghorn Antelope in Western Utah

Donald M. Beale and Arthur D. Smith
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 34, No. 3 (Jul., 1970), pp. 570-582
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3798865
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3798865
Page Count: 13
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Abstract

A study of herbage production, forage use, water consumption, and productivity of pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) was conducted from 1961 through 1969, on semi-desert range in western Utah. Most of the data were obtained from a small herd of antelope confined by a fence to 10,000 acres. Herbage production on the study area ranged from 114-321 lbs of air-dried herbage per acre over a 5-year period. During the same period, annual precipitation ranged from 4.24-11.13 inches. During summers of above-average rainfall, forbs provided over 90 percent of the diet at the peak of their production. Conversely, in years of below-average summer rainfall, forbs were often scarce and contributed less than 20 percent, browse making up the remainder. Grass was commonly utilized by antelope in early spring, and occasionally in late summer and fall if new growth appeared. Succulence appeared to be the major characteristic of the forage sought by the antelope. During late fall and winter when nearly all forbs were dry, their diet was over 90 percent browse, mostly black sagebrush (Artemisia nova). Antelope water consumption varied inversely with the quantity and succulence of preferred forage species. When forbs were abundant and their moisture content was 75 percent or more, the antelope did not drink water even though it was readily available. As vegetation lost succulence, water consumption began, reaching 3 quarts of water per animal per day during extremely dry periods. Fawn:doe ratios on the study area ranged from 100:100 to 181:100. These ratios are for mature does. A statistical analysis of fawn production to precipitation received during the previous summer months indicated a significant relationship and gave statistical values of t = 4.42 (P < 0.01); r = 0.722 (P <0.05).

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