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Survival of Mule Deer in Northwest Colorado

Gary C. White, Robert A. Garrott, Richard M. Bartmann, Len H. Carpenter and A. William Alldredge
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 51, No. 4 (Oct., 1987), pp. 852-859
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3801751
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3801751
Page Count: 8
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Survival of Mule Deer in Northwest Colorado
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Abstract

Survival of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in Piceance Basin, Colorado, was measured with radio telemetry for 3 years on 1 study area and 4 years on another. Survival rates for deer >6 months old were estimated for yearly intervals beginning 1 December. Male and female fawns had similar (P = 0.254) survival, as did adult and yearling females (P = 0.567). There were significant differences (P < 0.001) in survival rates among years for fawns, and for adult females, and between age classes (P < 0.001). The mean survival rate for each respective age class was 0.224 ± 0.056 (SE) and 0.832 ± 0.030 (SE). Mean fawn survival was similar on the 2 study areas even though major mortality causes differed (P < 0.001). From 46 to 76% of fawns on 1 area died from predation each year, whereas 49-83% of those on the other area starved. A Cox model analysis of 5 fawn body size variables revealed weight as the best predictor of overwinter survival. However, this was not consistent among years on 1 area, which suggested that not all mortality selected for small-bodied fawns. Average weight on 1 December was largest for fawns that lived, intermediate for fawns taken by predators, and smallest for fawns that starved. Variability in 5 body size parameters was consistently greatest for fawns taken by predators, suggesting little selection, whereas variability was smallest for fawns that lived, indicating selection for survival.

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