Alberta Map
Alberta Map

Introduction

Over its decade-plus of operations, the ABMI has generated a comprehensive dataset on Alberta’s species, their habitats, and the extent and type of human footprint across the province. With this information, the ABMI has developed analyses to predict species' relative abundances and examine species' responses to vegetation and soil types, as well as human footprint in Alberta. These methods have been applied to hundreds of species; this profile provides summary results for one.

Habitat & Human Footprint Associations

Deer are associated with many habitat types, but typically seek out forest openings in treed environments and tall shrub thickets or hedgerows in open grasslands. Deer also show a preference for growing and harvested grain fields in agricultural areas.

Species-habitat Associations in the Forested Region

Forested Region - Species Habitat Association Graph: Predicted species relative abundance (bars) as a function of vegetation and human footprint type in the forested region. Dots are added to forest types where harvesting occurs and show the predicted species abundance in cutblocks of various ages. Vertical lines represent 90% confidence intervals.

  • Deer occur in all vegetation types and footprint types in the forested region.
  • Deer relative abundance is highest in the shrub vegetation type, followed by young harvested deciduous and mixedwood stands, as well as old deciduous and mixedwood stands
  • Predicted relative abundance is also high in the cultivated human footprint in the forested region.
  • Deer relative abundance decreases with forest age in harvested stands but increases with forest age in stands originating from natural disturbances. 

Species-habitat Associations in the Prairie Region

Non-Treed Sites in the Prairie Region

Non-Treed Sites in the Prairie Region

Treed Sites in the Prairie Region

Treed Sites in the Prairie Region

Prairie Region - Species Habitat Association Graph: Predicted species relative abundance (bars) in each soil type and human footprint type in the prairie region. Vertical lines indicate 90% confidence intervals. The presence/absence of trees greatly affects the presence and abundance of many species; therefore, separate figures are presented for treed and non-treed sites in the prairie region.

  • Deer relative abundance is greater at non-treed compared to treed sites in the prairie region.
  • Deer relative abundance is similar among soil types in the prairie region, with rapidly drained and productive soils showing the highest predicted abundances.

Relationship to Linear Footprint


Relationship to Linear Footprint in the Forested Region



Linear Footprint Graph: Species relative abundance predicted for habitat with no human footprint compared to habitat in which 10% of the area is converted to either soft or hard linear footprint.

  • Deer relative abundance is predicted to have a slight, positive relationship with hard linear footprint and soft linear footprint in the forested region.

Relationship to Linear Footprint in the Prairie Region



Linear Footprint Graph: Species relative abundance predicted for habitat with no human footprint compared to habitat in which 10% of the area is converted to either soft or hard linear footprint.

  • Deer relative abundance is predicted to have no relationship with soft linear footprint or hard linear footprint in the prairie region.

Impacts of Human Footprint

With a preference for forest edges and openings, Deer can tolerate habitat alteration that create early successional habitat, such as forest harvesting, and are well adapted to human settings such as agricultural and rural residential areas.  

Human Footprint Effects in the Forested Region

Human Footprint Effects in the Forested Region

Sector effect graph: Changes to species relative abundance (number above or below bar) attributed to the footprint of five sectors: agriculture, forestry, energy, rural/urban footprint, and transportation. The y-axis shows the percent population change per unit area of the sector's footprint. The x-axis shows the total area occupied by each sector's footprint in the region. The areas of the sector-specific rectangle (equal to the unit effect multiplied by the area of footprint) is the total effect of the sector on the species relative abundance in the region.

  • Energy and transportation footprint have the strongest positive unit effects and strongest overall effect on Deer in the forested region, resulting in an increase in relative abundance compared to reference conditions.
  • Forestry has a relatively small negative unit effect on Deer relative abundance, but with its relatively large footprint in the forested region, results in a predicted decline in relative abundance.

Human Footprint Effects in the Prairie Region

Human Footprint Effects in the Prairie Region

Sector effect graph: Changes to species relative abundance (number above or below bar) attributed to the footprint of five sectors: agriculture, forestry, energy, rural/urban footprint, and transportation. The y-axis shows the percent population change per unit area of the sector's footprint. The x-axis shows the total area occupied by each sector's footprint in the region. The areas of the sector-specific rectangle (equal to the unit effect multiplied by the area of footprint) is the total effect of the sector on the species relative abundance in the region.

  • The unit effects of all human footprint types on Deer predicted relative abundance are small in the prairie region.

Predicted Relative Abundance

Deer are found throughout Alberta but are most common in the southern Boreal Forest, Parkland, and Grassland Natural Regions.

Reference Conditions

  • The reference condition shows the predicted relative abundance of the Deer after all human footprint had been backfilled based on native vegetation in the surrounding area.

Current Conditions

  • The current condition is the predicted relative abundance of the Deer taking current human footprint (circa 2012) into account.

Difference Conditions

  • Deer relative abundance is predicted to be higher under current conditions compared to reference conditions throughout much of its range in Alberta.
  • Deer relative abundance is predicted to be lower under current conditions in parts of the Grassland Natural Region when compared to reference conditions.

References & Credits

References & Credits

Alberta Environment and Parks. 2010. White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). http://aep.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wild-species/mammals/deer/whitetailed-deer.aspx. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Alberta Environment and Parks. 2014. Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) http://aep.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wild-species/mammals/deer/mule-deer.aspx. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Forsyth, A. 1999. Mammals of North America. Firefly Books, Willowdale, ON.

Hinterland Who’s Who. White-Tailed Deer. 2016 http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/mammals/white-tailed-deer.html. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Nudds, T.D. 1980. Forage "preference": theoretical considerations of diet selection by deer. Journal of Wildlife Management 44:735-740.

Data Sources

Data collected by ABMI.

Photo Credits

Photos: TBD

Recommended Citation

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. 2019. Deer (Odocoileus). ABMI Website: abmi.ca/home/data-analytics/biobrowser-home/species-profile?tsn=180697.

Additional ABMI Resources

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. 2016. ABMI Species Website Manual, Version: 2016-12-02. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, Alberta, Canada. Report available at: abmi.ca.

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. 2014. Manual for Species Modeling and Intactness, Version 2014-09-25. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, Alberta, Canada. Report available at: abmi.ca.

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. 2014. Terrestrial field data collection protocols (abridged version) 2016-05-18. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, Alberta, Canada. Report available at: abmi.ca.

Download ABMI Species and Habitat Data.

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