Landscape Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 45–57 | Cite as

Landscape effects on scales of movement by white-tailed deer in an agricultural–forest matrix

  • David M. Williams
  • Amy C. Dechen Quinn
  • William F. Porter
Research Article


Understanding how organisms respond to landscape heterogeneity is foundational to landscape ecology. We characterized seasonal scales of movement of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus viginianus) in an agricultural–forest matrix using first-passage time analysis (FPT) for 62 GPS-collared individuals. We investigated whether those scales were driven by demographic or landscape features. We found FPT for each individual across all seasons was typically dominated by a peak in variance of FPT/area at scales (radii) from 425 to 1,675 m. These peaks occurred at scales consistent with seasonal space use. We observed additional lower magnitude peaks at larger scales (3,000–6,000 m) and small scales (25–150 m). Peaks at larger scales were associated with seasonal migrations and dispersal events. Small scale peaks may represent resting or foraging behavior. Female movements were organized at smaller scales than males in the spring/summer season. Models relating landscape features to movement scales suggest that deer perceive and move within the landscape differently as the roles of dominant land-cover types shift seasonally. During winter, configuration (interspersion/juxtaposition) of land-cover types is more important to deer than during spring/summer and fall. During spring/summer and fall, movement behavior may be dictated by reproductive and harvest activities.


First-passage time GPS collars Landscape structure Scales of movement Seasonality White-tailed deer 



We thank J. Brunner, J. Frair, J. Major, and H. B. Underwood for constructive criticism on earlier drafts of this manuscript. Funding for this project was provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation with partial support from the United States Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Project W-173-G. Additional support was provided by the United States Geological Survey and the McIntire-Stennis Foundation at SUNY-ESF.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Williams
    • 1
  • Amy C. Dechen Quinn
    • 1
  • William F. Porter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Michigan State University, 13 Natural ResourcesEast LansingUSA

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