Joshua P Vasquez; University of Nevada, Reno;; Kevin T. Shoemaker, Kelley M. Stewart, Cody A. Schroeder

Landscape-scale use of habitat by mule deer has been known to change within some populations as resource requirements and availability change. Since habitat use tends to differ among seasons for this species we modeled habitat use by mule deer for summer and winter ranges in northeast Nevada. As a preliminary proof-of-concept, we examined 168 mule deer in summer ranges and 164 mule deer in winter ranges in central north east Nevada. We used a random forest analysis to model distribution of mule deer at a landscape scale (38,000 km2) as a function of 12 factors hypothesized to influence patterns of habitat selection by mule deer. In the summer, mule deer in our study area tended to avoid roads and playas and selected higher elevation areas close to sources of water. During winter, mule deer also avoided roads, and selected areas in the mountains rather than playas which had higher precipitation and temperatures than playa areas with little to no vegetation. In general, selection at this landscape scale was similar among seasons, but mule deer were more closely tied to sources of water during the arid summer months.

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