Ranging patterns and habitat use of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in a Mediterranean mixed wood/agricultural area
The ranging patterns and the habitat use of adult European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in a mixed wood/agricultural Mediterranean habitat in central Italy were examined by radio-tracking in a high density non-hunted population, between November 1995 and December 1997. Seasonal changes in range size were significant only when considering 100% of locations; males (n = 9) occupied largest ranges in January-February and smallest ones in September-October, whereas females (n = 9) had largest ranges during November-December and minimum ranges during May-June. The two sexes occupied different range sizes only during May-June, when males had larger ranges. For both sexes, there was no seasonal variation in core area size; neither were there differences in core area size between males and females at any time of the year. There was no seasonal change in diurnal inter-fix distance travelled by males or females. Neither were there seasonal changes in crepuscular inter-fix distance travelled by males. Females travelled shorter crepuscular inter-fix distances in May-June than in the winter months. Both sexes showed significant seasonal trends in their inter-fix distances travelled at night, with longest distances travelled in July-August and shortest ones travelled in autumn and spring for males and females, respectively. Males always travelled significantly longer inter-fix distances than does in spring, but did so only at night in summer. Marked deer spent significantly more time than expected in woodland habitat during the day, and in open fields habitat during the night, in any season. Within woodland, both males and females were found significantly more than expected in the interior rather than at the edge during the day, but not during the night. Both sexes preferred wood interior and wood edge during daytime, and avoided wood edge during night-time in any season. The two sexes showed opposite habitat preferences in spring, when males selected wood interior and females selected open fields during the night. Within fields, short herbs were always the preferred habitat of both sexes in any season, except during May-June when males and females showed avoidance during night and daytime, respectively. In daylight, both sexes selected cereals when they provided cover, but only males selected this crop type at night, during May-June. Ploughed fields were always avoided by all marked animals in any season.