Dispersal behavior is primarily a male-biased behavior in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) throughout the species range. However, in the agriculture-dominated lower Midwest and Great Plains, female dispersal also occurs. We examined the effects of the social and physical environment experienced by female fawns marked in central and northern Illinois, where dispersal rates were high (31%–61%) and forest cover occupied <5% of the county landscape. Dispersal probability was high for females born to subordinate mothers (25 of 26) and for fawns paired with a sibling that also dispersed (25 of 31). Females that dispersed came from populations with similar densities as those of females that remained sedentary. The lower dispersal rate for females born to dominant mothers suggests that the higher resource availability present within the home ranges of dominant mothers affects dispersal behavior. Subordinate mothers generally inhabit smaller, less secure ranges with fewer resources available to offspring. Resource availability appears to be one of the proximate factors influencing female fawn movement behavior.


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pp. 85-92
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