Apollonio, Marco and Ciuti, Simone and Luccarini, Siriano (2005) Long term influence of human presence on spatial sexual segregation in fallow deer (Dama dama). Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 86 (5), p. 937-946. eISSN 1545-1542. Article.
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The present work investigates how a fallow deer (Dama dama) population in central Italy might have been affected from 1984 to 2003 by the increase of human access to the study site, where humans were the main deer predators. By using deer census data, possible correlations were analyzed between the increase in human presence and the response of each age and sex class. The numbers of different age and sex classes of deer recorded inside and outside the sector affected by human presence throughout the 20-year period of study were compared. A differential response was recorded among classes. Adult females and juveniles left this area (reducing their presence from 37% of all deer observed to 11% for adult females and from 19% to 3% for juveniles) when human pressure became higher, whereas the opposite result was true for males older than 24 months (adult males) that remained inside the disturbed sector (from 27% to 50% of deer observed). Intermediate values were recorded for yearling males, because they can be associated with both groups of females and groups of males. Results of this long-term study are best explained with the reproductive strategy hypothesis, because the increase of predation risk evoked a marked spatial sexual segregation in the fallow deer population. Females and juveniles used relatively predator-safe habitats, whereas males used habitats with higher predation risk but better food quality. Furthermore, as females increased their presence outside the disturbed sector, males gradually abandoned the undisturbed area, increased use of the disturbed sector, and maximized foraging opportunities by going to areas where indirect competition with females was probably reduced.
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