Each fall hunters kill hundreds of thousands of White-tailed Deer ( Odocoileus virginianus) in Missouri and Illinois. Field dressing these deer provides a large influx of nutrient rich offal into the ecosystem. To date, little research has examined the effects of this resource on wildlife. We used trail cameras positioned over offal piles to examine species richness and diversity in a range of habitats during the 2011-2013 hunting seasons in Missouri and Illinois. There were a total of 17 different sampling sites, resulting in over 4 thousand photographs. Images were analyzed and organized into timed feeding events. Sites were categorized into one of three habitat types: field, edge, or forest. We documented 10 different scavenger species feeding on the offal. There was no significant difference in scavenger diversity (F=2.95; d.f.= 2,14; p=0.085), richness (F=2.25; d.f.2, 14; p=0.14;), nor habitat preference (F=0.51; d.f.2,14; p= 0.61) among habitat types. We also found no significant difference in the community structure of scavengers among the three habitat types (R= -0.049; p=0.64). However, there was a difference in the preferred mean feeding times of avian vs. mammalian scavengers (U=1,215.5; Z=11.24; p=0). The presence of offal piles does not appear to repel deer, as they were frequently observed in close proximity. The apparent similarity of the scavenger guild among habitat types can be attributable to the mosaic of fragmented habitat that characterizes the Midwest, as well as the generalized behavior of the species.
|Advisor:||Essner, Richard L.|
|Commitee:||Minchin, Peter R., Retzlaff, William|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 55/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Wildlife Management, Conservation, Environmental science|
|Keywords:||Gut piles, Hunting, Lead poisoning, Scavenger, Trail cameras, White-tailed deer|
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