Plant preference index of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in autumn and winter period

Janiszewski, P.; Szczepanski, W.

Sylwan 146(6): 65-73


ISSN/ISBN: 0039-7660
Accession: 003885991

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The food preference index for each plant found in the autumn and winter diet of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in individual groups in Poland was determined based on calculated plant frequency coefficient and weight coefficient. Pine (Pinus) appeared to be the most preferred species (highest preference index, 611 to 1079) for all red deer groups. Pine twigs were particularly preferred by males irrespective of age. Comparing the preference indices for other tree species, birch (Betula) was high especially in the diet of hinds and calves (index 481 and 330) and only slightly lower in the group of older and younger males (index 307 and 275). The share of oak (Quercus) twigs in the red deer diet was high. The indices determined for this species ranged from 137 in the group of older males to 191 in the group of calves. The red deer diet contained mainly of shoots, shrubs and dwarf-shrubs such as bilberry [Vaccinium], heather [Calluna vulgaris], osier [Salix] and raspberry. The preference index for bilberry equalled 502 and 674. A high preference index compared to that of pine was found in the group of calves. The preference index for bilberry in the group of males was also high but it greatly differed from that of pine. Rape and beetroot [Beta vulgaris] had the highest preference index value among the herbaceous dicotyledons. The two species were preferred more by calves than by males and females. The preference indices of hair grass and bent grass attained the highest values in this group of plants.