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Jackson, MS, United States

Jones P.D.,Mississippi State University | Strickland B.K.,Mississippi State University | Demarais S.,Mississippi State University | Blaylock A.C.,Fisheries and Parks
Southeastern Naturalist | Year: 2010

Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer) in Mississippi have been shown to respond morphometrically to soil resource area, but have not been evaluated for reproductive differences. We analyzed data from herd health checks (1978-2007) and fall harvests (1991-2007) to determine if soil resource area influenced reproductive parameters, and if assumed resource quality interacted with age. Ovulation rates approached unity and were similar across all soil resource areas and age classes, but there was some influence of soils and age class on number of corpora lutea. Pregnancy rate differed only between 2 of 8 soil resource areas, and was unaffected by age. Fetal counts increased with age class, and the incidence of twins among 1.5-year-old females was half that of females ≥2.5 years. Lactation rates differed among 1.5-year-olds by soil resource area, and reflected assumed soil quality among ≥3.5-year-olds. Because lactation occurs later in the reproduction cycle than ovulation or pregnancy, it is more indicative than other metrics of reproductive success. However, because lactation is a binary indicator, age-specific recruitment data is needed to determine potential effects of soil resource area on deer population dynamics.

Jones P.D.,Mississippi State University | Rude B.,Mississippi State University | Muir J.P.,Texas AgriLife Research Center | Demarais S.,Mississippi State University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2010

Condensed tannins (CT) can reduce digestibility of forages for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), potentially confounding estimates of diet quality and nutritional carrying capacity. We collected 143 spring and 142 summer samples of 8 important deer forage species from 22 properties in Mississippi, USA, and tested for CT content using a modified butanol-HCl assay. Three species (partridge pea Chamaecrista fasciculata, southern dewberry Rubus trivialis, and roundleaf greenbrier Smilax rotundifolia) contained CT, ranging from 0.11 to 6.46 dry weight. Summer CT concentration was greater than in spring for 2 species. We ranked soil samples from least to most fertile using 8 chemical characteristics and found a positive correlation between fertility and CT concentration for 1 species and no correlation for 2 species. We tested effects of CT concentration on in vitro dry matter disappearance (IVDMD) and in vitro protein digestibility using samples of partridge pea and roundleaf greenbrier and rumen fluid from 3 free-ranging deer. Average IVDMD was reduced 1.9 for each 1 increase in CT concentration. In vitro protein digestibility was reduced 2.5 for each 1 increase in CT concentration. Assuming that our methods reflect the effects of CT on in vivo digestibility, maximum loss of available crude protein (CP) in our samples was 3.0 g/100 g dry-weight forage, and only 13 of the 112 CT-containing forage samples (12) would have decreased available CP by >1 g/100 g dry-weight forage. Deer consuming equal portions of sampled forages would lose <1 of dietary CP to CT. Comparisons of foraging area quality using crude protein estimates should be unaffected by CT under reasonable restrictions of similar habitat types, soil fertility, and time. Given the ability of deer to forage selectively and the abundance of alternative forages in Mississippi, the potential for CT to substantially affect spring or summer diet quality of deer appears minimal. © The Wildlife Society.

St. James E.A.,Mississippi State University | Schummer M.L.,Mississippi State University | Kaminski R.M.,Mississippi State University | Penny E.J.,Fisheries and Parks | Burger L.W.,Mississippi State University
Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management | Year: 2013

Management of waterfowl habitat and hunting frequency is important to sustain hunting opportunities in Mississippi and elsewhere in North America. Managers have limited scientific information regarding the effect of weekly hunting frequency on waterfowl abundance for use in developing hunting plans for public hunting areas. We divided the hunted portions of three Mississippi Wildlife Management Areas into two treatments to evaluate the effect of hunting 2 versus 4 d/wk on duck abundance. Abundance of all ducks, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, and green-winged teal Anas crecca were not detectably different between weekly hunting frequencies. Sanctuary use increased approximately 30% during the first 1.25 h after sunrise regardless of hunting disturbance being present or absent. Our results indicate that duck abundance did not increase with increased rest days at Wildlife Management Areas, suggesting these areas may be hunted 4 d/wk without significantly decreasing duck abundance. Sanctuaries were used daily and may be vital to attract and retain ducks on Wildlife Management Areas.

Strickland B.K.,Mississippi State University | Jones P.D.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Demarais S.,Mississippi State University | Dacus C.M.,Fisheries and Parks | Dillard J.R.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Wildlife Society Bulletin | Year: 2013

Antler characteristics are a measure of phenotypic quality and are used by wildlifemanagers and hunters to assess herd characteristics of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). A single metric for antler quality would benefit scientists, wildlife managers, and the hunting public by providing a common gauge. Total antler volume or mass may be the most accurate measure of antler development, but is not practical to obtain from most hunter-harvested animals. The most accepted single measure of antler size is Boone & Crockett (B&C) score. We confirmed the efficacy of gross B&C scores as a predictor of antler mass (g) using antler measurements from 159 captive deer from the Mississippi State University Rusty Dawkins Memorial Deer Unit taken during 1986-1997. Gross B&C score explained 78% of variation in antler mass and was the best 1-variable predictive model. However, calculation of gross B&C score may require 11 measurements for most harvested adult males. To test the possibility of deriving a simple model to predict gross B&C score from a reduced number of measurements, we used data from 3,532 deer in the Mississippi Magnolia Records Program to examine regression models using inside spread, number of antler points, basal circumference, and main beam length as explanatory variables, because these are the most common antler measurements recorded by wildlife managers. A simple model using total number of points 2.5 cm and length of main beams explained 77% of variability in gross B&C scores. This model should enable hunters to provide accurate information to biologists regarding antler development in adult age classes, and its relative simplicity may encourage use. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.

Marable M.K.,Mississippi State University | Belant J.L.,Mississippi State University | Godwin D.,Fisheries and Parks | Wang G.,Mississippi State University
Behavioural Processes | Year: 2012

Animals in unfamiliar environments may increase exploratory movements, which may result in predation mortalities (the site familiarity hypothesis). Furthermore, increases in resource dispersion may reduce animal foraging time in small patches, and increase movements and home ranges of animals to acquire sufficient resources (the resource dispersion hypothesis). Little is known regarding effects of site familiarity on translocated birds in fragmented landscapes. We translocated 130 eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallapovo silvestris) in a sex ratio of one male to 4 females to 2 study sites that differed in forest fragmentation in MS, USA. Turkeys were captured from sites throughout Mississippi during springs 2009 and 2010. We monitored movements of translocated wild turkeys using radio telemetry. Movement distances and home ranges in 2010 did not differ among birds released in different years, inconsistent with the site familiarity hypothesis. However, movement distances and home ranges of translocated turkeys were greater at the more fragmented site than at the less fragmented site, supporting the resource dispersion hypothesis. Moreover, home range sizes were related positively to within-home-range variability in vegetative greenness measured by the normalized difference vegetation index. Effects of resource dispersion may override effects of site familiarity concerning translocated wild turkeys. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

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