Resource Selection by Wild and Ranched White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) during the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (EHDV) Transmission Season in Florida

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Animals (Basel). 2021 Jan 16;11(1):E211. doi: 10.3390/ani11010211.


Epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) causes serious disease in wild and privately ranched white-tailed deer (Odocoileusvirginianus) in the United States. In Florida, there is high EHDV prevalence, yet no treatments. There are few management strategies for the disease due to limited knowledge of virus-vector-host interactions. We conducted a telemetry study on white-tailed deer to examine resource use by wild and ranched animals in the Florida panhandle during the 2016 transmission risk period. We built generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) to estimate resource selection and map habitat preferences for wild and ranched deer in the study area to reveal how second-order selection may relate to higher disease prevalence in ranched deer. Wild deer preferred areas closer to tertiary roads and supplementary food sources but farther from permanent water. Ranched deer selected bottomland mixed forest and areas closer to tertiary roads, supplementary food sources, and permanent water. Ranched deer behaviors may increase the likelihood of EHDV vector encounters, as these deer selected preferred habitats of several putative vector species, which may increase vector blood meal success and viral transmission risk. Disparate resource selection behaviors may be a factor in observed differential EHDV exposure risk between ranched and wild white-tailed deer in Florida.

PMID:33467117 | DOI:10.3390/ani11010211