Impacts of Water Level Changes on White-Tailed Deer Movements in Broward County

Grant Winners

  • Barry Barker, Ed.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
  • Samuel Purkis, Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Emily Schmitt, Ph.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
  • Edward Keith, Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Mustafa Saleh, D.V.M., M.H.S.A., M.P.H. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences

Deans

  • Don Rosenblum, Ph.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
  • Richard Dodge, Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center

Abstract

Award Winners

The purpose of this study is to map the impacts of random or human-induced fluctuations in local standing water levels in western Broward County on Florida white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus seminolus). Migration patterns of white tailed deer in North America are not extensive and may cover a few miles at the most, especially in South Florida. However deer may be forced to forage widely for food in the Everglades depending upon water levels. The goal of this project is to map daily movements of Everglades white-tailed deer in relation to daily, weekly, and seasonal changes in water levels. The plan is to use GPS satellite tracking collars (Lotek®) to map the daily movements of deer in Broward County, and then overlay the data on satellite photographs taken throughout a 12 month cycle. The implications of this study are profound: 1) We can compare vegetation patterns over the past few years in Western Broward County with those of 2009; 2) By using GPS biotelemetry collars to track white-tailed deer we will generate visual and mathematical data to determine if climatic conditions affect foraging habits; 3) We can apply this model to other areas around the country where persistent drought conditions are correlated with blue-tongue diseases; and 4) We can open a window into middle school classrooms of an ongoing research project open to interaction and analysis. This is a five year project; the purpose of the initial grant is to provide the foundation of permitting, tranquilizing a buck and a female, collaring them; then using existing software in tracking their movements and analyzing the data produced. The next step in this project is to expand to collaring and tracking a total of 10 deer in Broward County and map other relationships found in the habitat, i.e., predation, accidents, and human-deer interactions.