projects > across trophic level system simulation (atlss) - deer
Across Trophic Level System Simulation (ATLSS) - Deer
The white-tailed deer is the largest herbivore in the Everglades and a major prey source for the endangered Florida panther. Since the early 1960's, when intensive water management began, the greater Everglades and Big Cypress deer population has declined by almost 75%, from a high of 25-30,000 deer. Changing water management strategies for south Florida have impacted deer in several ways, affecting reproductive success and recruitment, movement and foraging, and forage production and availability (Fleming 1997). During wet years, extended periods of inundation with water depths over 2-ft. are common in the impounded marshes of the northern Everglades. During these high water events, deer move to elevated sites such as tree islands, where they often suffer deterioration of physical condition and increased susceptibility to parasites and disease as food stores became depleted. Does and fawns are particularly susceptible to the effects of prolonged high water.
Each of the alternative water management scenarios evaluated as part of CERP will affect potential breeding and foraging activity of deer across the landscape. The ATLSS White-tailed Deer Breeding Potential Index (BPI) uses knowledge of how hydrologic factors affect the production and availability of food resources and the availability of dry bedding sites during the breeding season to compute a BPI for deer. We express the effects of proposed scenarios as changes in the spatial pattern of breeding potential over the model area.