Master of Science (MS)
Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries
Previous studies have shown that pen-raised deer may be already predisposed to malnutrition at a higher rate then their native counterparts because they are normally raised on a pelleted ration and may not forage efficiently once released into wild habitats. Therefore, twenty pen-raised white-tailed deer that were offspring of deer obtained from Missouri (Odocoileus virginianus) were released onto a marsh pump-off habitat in southeast Louisiana (Da Bunch) to compare their diets to the diets of the native, wild, white-tail deer population already established in the area over four consecutive seasons to test this hypothesis. The microhistological analysis technique was used to estimate the botanical compositions of fecal pellets collected from both populations of deer located in the same range, over four consecutive seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter) to account for seasonal variability. Native, wild and pen-raised deer diets averaged 78.2% similar during the year of the study, and were significantly associated to one another during each of the four seasons (P < 0.00001), indicating that all deer foraged on similar plant species in similar proportions. Differences were found in species frequencies per fecal sample, but for only five of the fifty-one species utilized significant differences were found (P < 0.001) between populations. Those species were Diodia virginiana in the spring, Aeschynomene americana, Ambrosia spp. during fall, and Berchemia scandens and Celtis laevigata in the winter. Both deer populations were predominantly grazers, with forbs constituting for a yearly average of 41.20% the deer diets. This study agrees with previous studies that concluded that translocated deer released into a new environment will adapt to the area and forage just as efficiently as the pre-existing deer population in the area assuming carrying capacity is not compromised.
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Davis, Kristopher Scott, "Diet similarity of pen-raised versus native, Louisiana white-tailed deer in southeastern Louisiana" (2003). LSU Master's Theses. 1509.