Date of Award:

1977

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Philip J. Urness

Abstract

During the summer of 1976, five tame, trained mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus) were used to determine botanical composition and relative preference of mule deer diets on five habitat segments in the lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) ecosystem of northeastern Utah. Diets were statistically analyzed according to estimated we1ghL consumption per unit of time spent feeding on the different segments. Habitat segments sampled were: clearcut forest, dry and wet meadow, mature forest, and stagnated forest. Diets differed between segments mainly because of differences in plant species available and their abundance. The diets in the non-forested segments averaged over 90 percent forbs,while in the forested segments forbs were only 65 percent of the diet. Differences are attributed to the low availability of forbs in the forested segments which are composed of over 90 percent browse, mainly grouse whortleberry (Vaccinium scoparium). Grasses and sedges were an insignificant part of the diet on all segments. Dietary differences based on forage classes were unimportant within the three non-forested segments as were diet differences within the two forested segments. Dietary differences based on estimated weight consumed per unit of time spent feeding were significantly different between all segments except the dry and wet meadow. The segments were thus ranked according to their importance as feeding areas for mule deer: 1. clearcut forest, 2. dry and wet meadow, 3. mature forest, and 4. stagnated forest. There was no apparent difference between diet composition computed from weight estimates and that computed based on bite counts for the first part of the summer. However, when mushrooms began growing and were eaten during the last part of the summer, comparisons of percent composition of diet derived from bite counts with that from estimated weights showed major differences. Especially was this true for diets from forested segments which had a larger proportion of mushrooms available in the community.

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