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Wednesday, February 8 • 9:40am - 10:00am
Technical Session. Dispersal of Yearling Male White-tailed Deer in Wisconsin

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AUTHORS: Brittany E. Peterson, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dan J. Storm, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Andrew. S. Norton, Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Tim R. Van Deelen, University of Wisconsin-Madison

ABSTRACT: Dispersal facilitates and influences many ecological processes, such as disease spread, range expansion, population dynamics, and gene flow. For intensively managed wildlife populations, like Wisconsin’s white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), understanding dispersal behavior is important for effective management. From 2011-2014, we investigated the effects of ecological context on dispersal in two contrasting study areas in Wisconsin, USA; one dominated by public forest and another by row-crop agriculture. We captured and radio-tracked 409 juvenile male white-tailed deer and evaluated weekly locations to assess dispersal. Dispersal increases mortality risk and carries energetic costs and trade-offs. Therefore, a condition threshold may exist, below which individuals are not able to meet these energetic demands and do not disperse. We found annual dispersal rates were negatively associated with annual winter severity, and individual yearling males with forked-antlers and larger chest girths associated with higher dispersal rates relative to yearlings with spike-antlers and smaller chest girths. Our results suggest that high phenotypic quality is part of the mechanism involved in dispersing from natal to adult range. Landscape features can alter dispersal and dispersal-mediated disease spread and gene flow. Roads, rivers, and cities were identified as semipermeable barriers to dispersal, but effects of barriers differed with respect to study area, suggesting that natural and anthropogenic features influence dispersal-mediated disease transmission and gene flow. Our results advocate that dispersal models consider movement barriers in more developed landscapes, and barriers can also be used to inform designation of biologically meaningful management units.

Wednesday February 8, 2017 9:40am - 10:00am CST
Grand Ballroom C