M. Influence of
microclimate on white-tailed deer wintering in a residential area in the
Throughout the Adirondack Mountains, increased numbers of deer have been observed wintering within residential communities. To elucidate potential advantages residential communities may provide deer in winter, I compared microclimate within residential habitats and traditional forest habitat. To evaluate the biological importance of these habitat differences, I examined deer movement behavior and food selection. The residential habitat provided microclimate advantages compared to the traditional winter habitat. Snow conditions and ambient temperatures were more favorable for deer within the residential habitat and microclimate conditions stimulated deer to seek locations offering thermally and energetically advantageous conditions. The residential habitat provided deer with additional food resources throughout the winter but supplemental food was used only when microclimate conditions were favorable. My research suggests that deer will likely continue to incorporate residential areas as winter yard habitat based on microclimate, habitat structure, and increased food availability.