The Persian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica) - among the rarest deer species in the world - has been gradually reintroduced, using individuals from a captive-bred population, in northern Israel since September 1996. As of October 2000, >80 animals were in the wild population. We studied seasonal and circadian attributes of deer home ranges to assess the success of the reintroduction in terms of behavioral adjustments to the wild. We used radiotelemetry to determine locations and analyzed home ranges with the adaptive kernel method. We defined 3 seasons: fawning (Mar-Jun), rut (Jul-Oct), and winter (Nov-Feb). For females (n = 16), rut home ranges were significantly larger than winter home ranges (449 ± 45 ha [mean ± SE] vs. 384 ± 36 ha, P1,15 = 0.013). During fawning, female home ranges were intermediate (424 ± 51 ha). Males (n = 5) increased their home ranges in rut season (820 ± 162 ha [mean ± SE], P < 0.012) and shifted their locations toward the release point. In winter, males significantly decreased their home ranges (584 ± 158 ha, P < 0.012), shifted their locations away from the release point, and almost no overlap of core areas was noticeable (1.8% overlap). In fawning (the time of antler casting and regrowth), males continued to shift away from the release point and decreased home ranges (358 ± 66 ha, P = 0.049) with almost no overlapping of core areas (0.06% overlap). No statistically significant differences were found between day home ranges (males [n = 5]: 621 ± 220 ha [mean ± SD], females [n = 16]: 402 ± 164) and night home ranges (males: 482 ± 145, females: 389 ± 183), although day core areas tended to be larger (in all males and 12 of 16 females). All documented aspects of seasonality in female and male home ranges are in accordance with the annual reproduction cycle, and are related to seasonal food availability. These results, combined with previous works, suggest that so far, the reintroduced Persian fallow deer have adjusted well to living in the wild and that the chances of achieving a self-sustaining wild population are good. However, further research for extended period should verify these conclusions.
- Adaptive kernel
- Dama mesopotamica
- Home range
- Persian fallow deer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation