Aycrigg, J.L. 1993. Socio-spatial dynamics of
white-tailed deer in the central Adirondack mountains, New York.
M.S. Thesis, SUNY-ESF, Syracuse, 138pp.
Abstract: A population of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the central Adirondack mountains of New York, that has not been hunted since 1932 and has a high proportion of marked females was used to examine the socio-spatial behavior of individuals between and within kin groups. Two methods were used to delineate kin groups using radio telemetry data. Both methods resulted in similar groupings of females. A high level of female philopatry led to greater group stability. The actual genetic relatedness among females was uncertain, but because of high group stability through time, kin groups were assumed to be composed of related individuals. Comparisons to historical data indicated long-term fidelity of individuals to kin groups. Socio-spatial behavioral patterns of female deer appeared to depend on age and reproductive status. Group stability through time benefitted from behavioral flexibility or variation of individuals within the group. Individuals >5 years old appeared to maintain more exclusive spring and summer ranges than younger individuals. Pregnant females exhibited more flexibility in their range sizes during parturition than barren females. This behavior by a pregnant female may reduce the chance of misdirected imprinting and the risk of predation on her fawn. Socio-spatial behavioral patterns between kin groups appear to be rigid and well established, however, within kin groups there is sufficient behavioral flexibility for a female to influence her reproductive success. The socio-spatial dynamics of white-tailed deer show that management may be more effective at more detailed levels within a population.