Epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) is a pathogen vectored by Culicoides midges that causes significant economic loss in the cervid farming industry and affects wild deer as well. Despite this, its ecology is poorly understood. Studying movement and space use by ruminant hosts during the transmission season may elucidate EHDV ecology by identifying behaviors that can increase exposure risk. Here we compared home ranges (HRs) and site fidelity metrics within HRs using the T-LoCoH R package and GPS data from collared deer.
Here, we tested whether white-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus) roaming within a high-fenced, private deer farm (ranched) and native deer from nearby state-managed properties (wild) exhibited differences in home range (HR) size and usage during the 2016 and 2017 EHDV seasons. We captured male and female individuals in both years and derived seasonal HRs for both sexes and both groups for each year. HRs were calculated using a time-scale distance approach in T-LoCoH. We then derived revisitation and duration of visit metrics and compared between years, sexes, and ranched and wild deer.
We found that ranched deer of both sexes tended to have smaller activity spaces (95% HR) and revisited sites within their HR more often but stayed for shorter periods than wild deer. However, core area (25% HR) sizes did not significantly differ between these groups.