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Habitat manipulation preferred by Eld’s Deer in Hainan Island, China

Zhang, He, Zhang, Simeng, Fu, Mingli, Chang, Hongli, He, Gang, Hou, Rong, Pan, Ruliang, Li, Baoguo, Guo, Songtao
Journal for nature conservation 2019 v.48 pp. 21-26
Rucervus eldii, conservation areas, conservation status, deer, endangered species, females, food availability, habitats, males, China
In order to improve the conservation status of the Eld’s Deer (Cervus eldii), a critically endangered species in China, a population in a nature reserve on Hainan Island was studied. Abundances and behaviours in two different habitat types, natural and manipulated, were recorded. We found that different habitats were preferred according to season. Both sexes were more abundant in the manipulated habitat from January to May, with males being more abundant in the natural habitat from September to October. However, females, were significantly more abundant from April and May in the manipulated habitat. The deer preferred the more open manipulated habitat for feeding, consistent with greater food availability. This study provides useful evidence for managers to create seasonally suitable habitat for the conservation of this species on Hainan Island. Similar methods could also be applied to other deer species in China, most of which are facing critical survival challenges.