Effect of activity states on habitat selection by black-tailed deer

© The Wildlife Society, 2018 Habitat selection is a complex hierarchical process and in ungulates typically varies at broad spatial and temporal scales and among individuals. Recent advancements in the ability of global positioning system (GPS)-collars to collect activity data provide opportunities to understand underlying mechanisms or trade-offs responsible for fine-scale variation in habitat selection. Based on data from 64 female black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) fitted with GPS-collars in northern California, USA, between 2004 and 2013, we first investigated habitat selection at the home range scale. We then used data from a subset of 27 individuals to determine if habitat selection within home ranges was influenced by activity states (active or inactive). Habitat selection by black-tailed deer varied between summer and winter and was mostly explained by differences in elevation, terrain, and vegetation. Within their home ranges, black-tailed deer showed fine-scale selection for habitats that varied with activity states. In summer, selection for edge density and forest types varied across activity states highlighting important fine-scale selection patterns. Activity state also affected our conclusions about the selection of habitats including slope, canopy cover, and forest types by black-tailed deer in winter. During both seasons, deer selected for apparently secure habitat when inactive, likely to minimize risk of predation. These results highlight the importance of considering activity states when evaluating habitat selection from animal location data. This is particularly important in multi-use landscapes such as national forests where habitat needs of ungulates are important considerations in management decisions, including timber harvest. © 2018 The Wildlife Society.