The University of Arizona

Response of white-tailed deer foods to discing in a semiarid habitat.

T.E. Fulbright

Abstract


Discing strips of rangeland to increase wildlife foods is a common management practice. I tested the hypotheses (1) annual discing results in greater canopy cover of annual forbs preferred by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Raf.) than discing at less frequent intervals of time, (2) frequent discing reduces the abundance of preferred perennial forbs, and (3) discing only once results in greater total canopy cover of annual and perennial forbs preferred by deer. The experimental design was a split-plot with soil series (Ramadero loam or Delfina fine sandy loam) as main plots and discing treatment in October as subplots. Discing treatments were (1) no treatment (control); (2) discing once in 1990; (3) discing once in 1994; (4) discing in 1990 and 1994; (5) discing in 1990, 1992, and 1994; and (6) discing annually from 1990-1994. Discing increased canopy cover of annuals preferred by white-tailed deer and increased canopy cover of unpalatable forbs, but decreased preferred perennials. Canopy cover of forbs eaten, but not preferred by deer, increased following discing. Based on these results, soil disturbance by discing is not recommended as a habitat improvement practice in the semiarid western Rio Grande Plains of Texas if the objective of management is to increase canopy cover of forb preferred by white-tailed deer.

Keywords


discing;annuals;Prosopis glandulosa;frequency;palatability;perennials;rain;Odocoileus virginianus;forbs;semiarid zones;Texas;canopy;feeding preferences

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