U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government


Main content area

Habitat Use and Abundance of Island-Endemic White-Tailed Deer in Panama

Duquette, Jared F., Flores, Eric E., Ureña, Luis, Ortega, Josué, Cisneros, Iliana, Moreno, Ricardo, Loman, Zachary
Mammal study 2020 v.45 no.1 pp. 13-25
Odocoileus virginianus, animal trails, cameras, deer, ecotones, edge effects, females, feral animals, habitat preferences, habitats, humans, males, models, secondary forests, temperature, tourism, wildlife, Panama
Although white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have been studied extensively, ecological information lacks for O. virginianus rothschildi, a subspecies endemic to Coiba Island, Panama. A combination of camera traps (n = 29) deployed during March–July 2015 and Royle–Nichols occupancy model were used to estimate the sex-related detection, habitat use, and abundance of unmarked deer. No covariates influenced detection of individual sexes, but detection of sexes combined was greater on wildlife trails than maintained human foot trails and negatively related to daily maximum temperature. Predicted abundance of sexes combined and females were greatest along an ecotone of secondary forest and feral fields, whereas male abundance was greatest at an ecotone of secondary and primary forest. Results corroborated the common mixed edge habitat use of O. virginianus, with likely partitioning of resources between sexes due to differing habitat needs. Although primary forest dominants Coiba Island, lesser use of this habitat suggests that it may provide poorer resources for deer, at least during the period of this study. Additionally, habitat use suggested potential avoidance of areas with greater feral livestock and tourist use. Further research is needed to understand the ecology of this endemic subspecies, including potential anthropogenic threats.