Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Journal or Book Title
Understanding demographic parameters such as survival is important for scientifically sound wildlife management. Survival can vary by region, sex, age-class, habitat, and other factors. White-tailed deer fawn survival is highly variable across the species’ range. While recent studies have investigated fawn survival in several Midwestern states, there have been no published estimates from Iowa for 30 years. We radio-collared 48 fawns in central Iowa from 2015–2017 to estimate survival, home range size, and habitat composition and identity causes of mortality. Estimated fawn survival (± SE) was similar to other Midwest studies at 30 (0.78 ± 0.07)) and 60 days (0.69 ± 0.08), but considerably lower at 7 months (0.31 ± 0.02). Survival was positively associated with woodland habitat through 30 and 60 days, but not related to habitat at 7 months. Female fawns avoided agricultural habitat in their home ranges. Fawn 95% kernel density home ranges were smaller than in other studies in the Midwest (21.22 ± 2.74 ha at 30 days, 25.47 ± 2.87 ha at 60 days, and 30.59 ± 2.37 ha at 7 months). The large amount of woodland and grassland (>90%) in our study area meant that fawns did not have to travel far to find suitable cover, which may explain their small home ranges. We recorded 21 mortalities, the leading cause of which was disease (n = 9; 56% epizootic hemorrhagic disease [EHD]) followed by suspected predation (4) and harvest (3). The mortality associated with an outbreak of EHD in 2016, all of which occurred after 60 days post-capture, is the most likely explanation for our low survival estimate at 7 months. While predation, usually early in life, is the leading cause of mortality in most studies, sporadic diseases like EHD can be a major source of mortality in older fawns in some years.
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McGovern et al.
McGovern, Patrick G.; Dinsmore, Stephen J.; and Blanchong, Julie A., "Survival of white-tailed deer fawns in central Iowa" (2020). Natural Resource Ecology and Management Publications. 346.