Summer bed-site selection by roe deer in a predator free area
Xuebo Qin 1  
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Tianjin Natural History Museum, No. 206 Machang Road, Hexi District, Tianjin 300074, China
Publication date: 2012-02-23
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2011;22(2)

For many animals, bed-site selection is influenced by anti-predator strategies, as they are forced to cope with high risk of predation. I examined summer bed-site selection by roe deer (Capreolus capreolus bedfordi) in an area - Baxianshan Nature Reserve, north China -, where predators were extirpated 22 years before, predicting that roe deer would select the bed-sites which allowed them to maximize fawn survival, independently from predation risk.

Among three available forest types, roe deer showed a strong preference for deciduous forests. Roe deer bedded at sites with higher elevation, denser shrub, higher herb biomass and cover and higher percentage of new shoots to the total twigs compared to negative sites. They selected bed-sites relatively far from trees, shrubs, and human features. Furthermore, roe deer avoided areas with tall shrubs and steep slopes. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that food availability, visibility, space, and human disturbance were the most important factors affecting bed-site selection by roe deer. Bed-site selection by roe deer was still the result of anti-predator strategies. This implies that two decades were a too short period to let deer lose the memory of predation pressure. This study suggests that the nonrandom bed-site selection of roe deer aimed to increase reproductive success by enhancing fawn survival.