Habitat relationships between sympatric mule deer and white-tailed deer in Texas

Josh T. Avey, Warren B. Ballard, Mark C. Wallace, Mary H. Humphrey, Paul R. Krausman, Fielding Harwell, Ernest B. Fish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Desert mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus eremicus) and Texas white-tailed deer (O. virginianus texanus) are sympatric in west-central Texas. During winter, spring, and summer 1999 and 2000, we recorded locations of sympatric mule and white-tailed deer to determine habitat-use differences between species. We measured 379 mule deer and white-tailed deer locations for biotic and abiotic landscape parameters. Slope and percent shrub cover explained most variation in distributions of the 2 species. Locations of bedded deer were the most discriminated behavior type for all models. Density of shrubs and slope were the most important variables used to describe habitat preference by either deer species. Mean shrub cover used by mule and white-tailed deer at bed sites was 37.7% and 53.9%, respectively. Mean percent slopes used by mule and white-tailed deer for bed sites were 9.2 and 2.9, respectively. To a lesser extent, the same habitat parameters discriminated locations between deer species for moving and browsing for 1999 and 2000. If land managers want to maintain both deer species, several land management actions might be necessary. For mule deer on relatively steep slopes, managers should maintain lower percent woody cover and encourage native forb growth. For white-tailed deer in lower drainages, managers should maintain >50% woody species cover and encourage intermittent grass growth in the remaining areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)644-653
Number of pages10
JournalSouthwestern Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003


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