Date of Award

Spring 3-30-1999

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

School of Renewable Natural Resources

First Advisor

Johnson, Mark K.

Second Advisor

Chabreck, Robert H.

Third Advisor

Afton, Alan

Abstract

I used microhistological analysis of fecal pellets to estimate and compare seasonal diet compositions between free-ranging, southern and translocated. northern woodland white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on Golden Ranch Hunting Farm, Gheens, Louisiana,. over four consecutive seasons, from January 1997 through January 1998. I analyzed pellet groups with Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) and wet chemistry techniques to evaluate and compare crude protein levels between populations of deer and provide indices of diet quality. On average, native and translocated deer diets were 87.65% similar during the entire study, and were significantly associated during all seasons ( P < 0.0000 I ). suggesting that deer fed on similar plant species in like quantities throughout the year. Few differences were found in plant selection frequencies per fecal sample. hut significant differences were detected (P 0.00 l) among deer populations in the use of Berchemia scandens and Vitis rotundifolia during spring. Northern deer also ingested a greater diversity of plants (P < 0.05) during spring and winter; and fecal crude protein levels were similar (P > 0.05) in all seasons except winter, when there was more (P < 0.05) protein in southern deer diets. Overall. diet compositions. plant diversity. and diet quality of southern and northern deer populations were similar, suggesting that translocated deer select diets comparable to those of native animals.

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