We compared bed sites selected by desert mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus eremicus) to nearby random sites to assess bed site features. Thermal cover of bed sites (i.e., vegetation ≥75 cm high that provided shade for a deer) was highest in summer (X̄ = 43.7% ± 4.1 SE) compared to spring (29.7% ± 4.4), winter (33.5% ± 3.1), and autumn (39.8% ± 4.0); however, selection for bed sites with thermal cover that differed most from that available randomly was highest in spring (X̄ difference between bed and random sites = 14.8% ± 5.2) compared to summer (8.3% ± 4.1), winter (6.6% ± 3.5), and autumn (8.6% ± 3.5). Thermal cover is likely important as a contribution to thermoregulation, escape cover, protection of fawns, and fawn survival.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics