Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Pennsylvania
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Diefenbach, D. R., E. S. Long, C. S. Rosenberry, B. D. Wallingford, and D. R. Smith. 2008. Modeling the distribution of dispersal distances in male white-tailed deer. Journal of Wildlife Management 72:1296-1303.


Dispersal distances and their distribution pattern are important to understanding such phenomena as disease spread and gene flow, but oftentimes dispersal characteristics are modeled as a fixed trait for a given species. We found that dispersal distributions differ for spring and autumn dispersals of yearling male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) but that combined data can be adequately modeled based on a log-normal distribution. We modeled distribution of dispersal distances from 3 distinct populations in Pennsylvania and Maryland, USA, based on the relationship between percent forest cover and mean dispersal distance and the relationship between mean and variance of dispersal distances. Our results suggest distributions of distances for dispersing yearling male white-tailed deer can be modeled by simply measuring a readily obtained landscape metric, percent forest cover, which could be used to create generalized spatially explicit disease or gene flow models.