Spatial analysis of home range, core area and habitat selection of red deer (Cervus elaphus) on an extensively managed high-country station
Netzer, Michael; Whigham, Peter A; Dickinson, Katharine; Lord, Janice
The aim of this research was to determine the behavior and habitat selection of red deer (Cervus elaphus) hinds during the calving period, on an extensively managed rangeland in the high-country of New Zealand’s South Island. The research was developed using ArcView and eCognition software, GPS collars on five red deer hinds, an aerial photograph and topographic data. The results showed that three out of the five study deer escaped the original study paddock into adjacent extensive paddocks. The deer did not use the entire study paddocks they were in, but instead formed distinct home ranges (total area of movement) and core areas (areas of intensive use, 45% of deer locations). These home ranges were highly variable in size from 225 ha. To 36 ha.. Core areas ranged from 102 ha. To 36 ha.. The variation in size of home ranges and core areas was directly related to the size of the paddock, and indirectly to social constraints within the paddock. The results suggest that deer within these extensive paddocks are under strong densitydependent effects during the calving season that may be forcing some hinds (probably less-dominant hinds) to the marginal edges of the pasture, where they may eventually escape. Habitat selection indicated, that while red deer often selected the naturalized pasture grass areas (high in metabolized energy), tussock grassland, when present in the home range, was also highly selected for. The selection of tussock grasslands was probably a result of tussock habitat providing both good cover/security during the calving season, and the presence of reasonably good forage in the inter-tussock area.
Conference: 19th Annual Colloquium of the Spatial Information Research Centre (SIRC 2007: Does Space Matter?), Dunedin, New Zealand
Keywords: red deer (Cervus elaphus); extensive pastures; production; density-dependent; habitat selection; home range; core areas; tussock grassland
Research Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)