Date of this Version
Wildlife Society Bulletin 39(3):651–657; 2015
Many factors influence what and why animals select the foods they eat. Several methods have been used to estimate food habits of herbivores, but they all have limitations such as defining available foods and misrepresenting particular forages. We evaluated plant consumption by adult male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with camera collars in a semi-enclosed population in southern Texas, USA, during late autumn 2010. We collected 1,241 videos taken at all times of the day and night from 15 camera collars and confirmed consumption of 40 plant species with an 84% probability of identification. Diets of individual deer varied considerably, though there was an apparent preference for prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii) and blackbrush acacia (Vachellia rigidula). Our results were consistent with other conventional studies of food habits of deer in the region. Yet, we feel camera collars provide a more thorough and detailed representation of forage species available and consumed. Strategic deployments of camera collars could advance the understanding of nutritional requirements and behavior of deer because a broad array of concurrent data can be collected.