Forest habitat use by red deer Cervus elaphus in the Is-sur-Tille massif Cote-dOr Utilisation de lhabitat forestier par le cerf Cervus elaphus dans le Massif dIs-sur-Tille Cote-dOr

Morellet, N.; Guibert, B.; Klein, F.; Demolis, C.

Gibier Faune Sauvage. Decembre; 134: 1477-1493


Accession: 038260687

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The influence of habitat characteristics on red deer, Cervus elaphus, habitat use and their intake of woody vegetation in the Is-sur-Tille (Cote-d'Or) massif was studied with the help of a Partial Least Square regression method, whereby pellet-group abundance (index to habitat) and the amount of woody vegetation that was consumed (index to woody-browse intake) were used as independent variables, and the 62 and 36 habitat descriptive variables, respectively, as explanatory variables. Pellet group abundance and the amount of browse consumed were measured between February 2 and March 25, 1993 on 193 10-m diameter circular plots distributed throughout six types of forest stands. Our findings show that the red deer is influenced by the general features of the landscape, and notably by anthropic factors. It has a tendency to use only a certain part of the forest sufficiently distant to villages and roads. Within its areas of use red deer may select in favour of specific habitat characteristics. The choice is partly based on the availability of food resources, such that it will preferentially occupy habitats with dense understory vegetation (less than 1-m high), while showing a tendency to avoid habitats with varied types of forest stands. We found a positive relationship between pellet abundance on the study plot and the presence of forest roads surrounding the study plots 200 to 400 m away We think that this relationship reflects red deer preference for elevated points offering good visibility. In fact, forest roads are frequently situated at the bottom of the valley and the distance of 200-400 m often corresponds to the summit of the surrounding slopes.