Deer wintering habitat models for two regions of Nova Scotia
LE3 .A278 1997
Master of Science
A project jointly supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Acadia University was initiated in 1993 to study the winter habitat of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Two geographically separate areas representing the extremes of the Nova Scotia climate were selected, one in Queens county and the other in Inverness county. The first part of the study involved an analysis of forage aspects of the deer wintering area. The Queens study area had an average of 10656 stems per hectare available for browse, whereas the Cape Breton study area had 22789 stems per hectare. The mean mass of the browsed portion of the available stem, browsed biomass, was measured. Browsed biomass was significantly different between study areas and among species, but not among cover types. Annual increment of unbrowsed shoots showed significant differences among species and cover types, but not between study areas. Habitat model construction and testing were the focus of the second part of the study. This involved the capturing of deer, followed by the attachment of a radio-collar. Radio-locations, recorded during three winter seasons, were transferred to a geographical information system. Kendall-tau testing, coupled with t-testing and Mann-Whitney testing aided in the elimination of insignificant habitat variables. A total of 29 variables were considered at a local scale, and 22 at a landscape scale in developing the models. A step-wise logistic regression, using the presence or absence of deer as the dependent variable, was performed. The model was applied to a geographical information system to produce a weighted composite probability map for habitat evaluation. Such a map has the potential for application in meeting the demands of Nova Scotia's silvicultural needs while maintaining critical deer winter habitat. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
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