Fecal vs. Rumen Contents to Determine White-tailed Deer Diets
The purpose of this study was to evaluate and determine the feasibility of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) diet composition of rumen versus fecal contents during winter months in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Sixty-two deer were shot over five winters (December – May). Major plant composition was approximately the same; however, juniper, pine, lichen, and Astragalus species showed significant differences between fecal and rumen comparisons. Spearman rank order correlation indicated ranks were in good agreement (r = 0.82, P = 0.01). Average Kulczynki’s similarity was 75 percent overall and is considered very good for major forage species. Significant differences were observed for shrubs and lichen when considering all forage species.. Overall, fecal analyses for major forage species will provide excellent information and help managers make more informed decisions with regard to habitat resources for deer.
Key words: diet composition, methods, microhistological, forage, plants