US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



WILDLIFE MONOGRAPHS (ISSN: 0084-0173) A Publication of The Wildlife Society (July 1981) No.77.


The white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus has been subject to intensive research and management, yet we are just beginning to understand its social organization. Little is known about home range formation, migration, social bonds, and traditions in this deer, what functions they serve, and what selective forces have affected them.

Predation by wolves Canis lupus, in particular, has not been examined as a factor in deer evolution, yet the intimate interactions between deer and wolf through the millennia no doubt strongly influenced major morphological and behavioral adaptations in both species. It is a reasonable assumption that wolf predation has been a major force shaping and maintaining the deer's characteristics as we know them today (Mech 1970, Mech and Frenzel 1971). To gain insight into deer ecology and evolution, it is essential to weigh the adaptive value of deer behavior in relation to that force.