The Wolf Intelligencer


Sitka Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis)

Using LiDAR and Random Forest to improve deer habitat models in a managed forest landscape. Shanley CS, Eacker DR, Reynolds CP, Bennetsen BM, Gilbert SL. Forest Ecology and Management. 2021 Nov


Conservation strategies are hindered by a lack of accurate maps of important habitat for many wildlife species, but especially for species inhabiting managed forest landscapes. Prioritizing restoration efforts on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from past extensive clearcut logging is extremely challenging given the difficulty in accurately mapping its remote, rugged temperate rainforest landscapes. We tested the application of airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology to build a winter habitat model for Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis), the primary herbivore in the coastal temperate rainforest. We analyzed the importance of geomorphometric and forest structure characteristics as predictors of deer winter habitat selection using Random Forest applied to a 3-year GPS relocation dataset collected from 40 adult female deer. The LiDAR-based habitat model had a predictive performance of 94% (Out-of-bag error = 6%), a 10% lower model error compared to air-photo interpreted polygons and modeled plot data. Random Forest also outperformed analogous resource selection function models based on a comprehensive k-fold cross-validation. Deer habitat selection patterns in the LiDAR-based model were nonlinear across geomorphometric and forest structure predictive variables, and generally supported existing studies of deer habitat selection. Besides improving deer conservation and management on the Tongass National Forest, our approach could greatly enhance the accuracy and resolution of habitat maps used for conservation and restoration planning across large managed forest landscapes.

Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) adjust habitat selection and activity rhythm to the absence of predators. Bonnot NC, Morellet N, Hewison AM, Martin JL, Benhamou S, Chamaillé-Jammes S. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 2016 Mar

Short-term effects of hunting on naïve black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis): behavioural response and consequences on vegetation growth. Le Saout S, Padié S, Chamaillé-Jammes S, Chollet S, Côté S, Morellet N, Pattison J, Harris E, Martin JL. Canadian journal of zoology. 2014 Sep

A review of the population dynamics of mule deer and black‐tailed deer Odocoileus hemionus in North America. Forrester TD, Wittmer HU. Mammal Review. 2013 Oct

Fine-scale social and spatial genetic structure in Sitka black-tailed deer. Colson KE, Brinkman TJ, Person DK, Hundertmark KJ. Conservation Genetics. 2013 Apr

Individual identification of Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) using DNA from fecal pellets. Brinkman TJ, Person DK, Schwartz MK, Pilgrim KL, Colson KE, Hundertmark KJ. Conservation Genetics Resources. 2010 Dec

Competing hypotheses for the etiology of cryptorchidism in Sitka black‐tailed deer: an evaluation of evolutionary alternatives. Latch EK, Amann RP, Jacobson JP, Rhodes Jr OE. Animal Conservation. 2008 Jun

Winter habitat selection by Sitka black‐tailed deer. Doerr JG, Degayner EJ, Ith G. The Journal of wildlife management. 2005 Jan

Survival and habitat selection of Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) in a fragmented coastal temperate rainforest. Farmer, C.J., 2003

Dietary overlap between native Sitka black-tailed deer and introduced elk in southeast Alaska. Kirchhoff MD, Larsen DN. The Journal of wildlife management. 1998 Jan

Seasonal patterns in body mass, body composition, and water transfer rates of free-ranging and captive black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) in Alaska. Parker KL, Gillingham MP, Hanley TA, Robbins CT. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 1993 Jul

Balancing economic development, biological conservation, and human culture: the Sitka black-tailed deer Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis as an ecological indicator. Hanley TA. Biological Conservation. 1993 Jan

Analysis of the functional response in foraging in the Sitka black‐tailed deer. Spalinger DE, Hanley TA, Robbins CT. Ecology. 1988 Aug

Seasonal distribution and home-range patterns of Sitka black-tailed deer on Admiralty Island, southeast Alaska. Schoen JW, Kirchhoff MD. The Journal of wildlife management. 1985 Jan

Black-tailed deer use in relation to forest clear-cut edges in southeastern Alaska. Kirchhoff MD, Schoen JW, Wallmo OC. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 1983 Apr

Sitka black-tailed deer winter range in the Kadashan Bay area, Southeast Alaska. Bloom AM. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 1978 Jan

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