Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Multiple factors could be the cause of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) population decline across the West such as an increase in non-native vegetation, human expansion, climate change, or a combination of these. Populations of mule deer generate substantial revenue for local communities and hold ecological, cultural, and social value. Therefore, wildlife researchers are increasing their efforts in improving environmental conditions that support mule deer growth. The Utah Department of Natural Resources and partners have taken proactive measures through the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative (WRI) to improve mule deer habitats by restoring these environments to improve their quality for humans and wildlife. The purpose of my research was to determine which restoration efforts have the greatest impact on deer use (Chapter 2) and fawn production (Chapter 3). Chapter 2 showed that patterns in the types of available vegetation surrounding WRI restoration treatments out to multiple kilometer extents influence mule deer use. During both summer and winter seasons, deer use was higher on restoration sites that had greater amounts of herbicide treatments (both seasons), and greater amounts of fuels management treatment areas (summer only) in the larger landscape. Furthermore, we predict that the highest mule deer use would be seen in areas where 100% of the landscape is made up of entirely herbicide treatments restoration treatments. In Chapter 3, while we saw a negative relationship between the total acreage of WRI treatments completed in deer hunt units and fawn production, it appears as though the relative amount of one specific type of treatment, herbicide treatments, may improve fawn production. These discoveries can provide wildlife researchers with the necessary tools to help strategically plan habitat restoration efforts in the future for mule deer in the intermountain-west to eventually reverse broad population declines.
Solberg, Jaylin, "The Influence of Watershed Restoration Initiative Habitat Treatments on Mule Deer Relative Use and Fawn Production in Utah" (2023). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Fall 2023 to Present. 66.
Copyright for this work is retained by the student. If you have any questions regarding the inclusion of this work in the Digital Commons, please email us at .