Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Jonathan Jenks


White-tail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are an economically and recreationally important species throughout their range, and understanding their ecology to implement beneficial management techniques is invaluable. This thesis focused on two studies 1) the effect of Imidacloprid on adult female and fawn physiology and 2) an evaluation of techniques to monitor white-tailed deer at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (GSNWR). Imidacloprid, a widely-used pesticide, has been linked to lethal and sub-lethal effects in insects and small vertebrates, however, no research has been conducted on white-tailed deer. Twenty captive pregnant adult female and subsequent fawns housed at the South Dakota State University Wildlife Farm were separated into four pens and given different concentrations of aqueous Imidacloprid (Control 0 ng/L, Low 1,500 ng/L, Moderate 3,000 ng/L, and High 15,000 ng/L) in 2015 and 2016 (May-October). Data collected included water consumption rates, Free Triiodothyronine (FT3) and Free Thyroxine (FT4) hormones, behavioral observations, organ weights, jawbone lengths, and Imidacloprid concentrations in organs. Our results indicated that 1) Imidacloprid was more environmentally prevalent than anticipated, 2) fawn spleen Imidacloprid concentrations showed a negative effect on fawn survival (p = 0.00005), FT4 levels (p = 0.009), and size (p < 0.05), and 3) Imidacloprid presence decreased adult female and fawn activity. The second portion of this study focused on an evaluation of GSNWR techniques for estimating deer population size to aid in future refuge management. Two separate density surveys (Distance Sampling Spotlight Survey and Baited Trail Camera Survey) were completed in 2015 and 2016 at GSNWR and adjacent Lord Stirling Park Somerset County Environmental Education Center (SCEEC). Results indicated that GSNWR population was well below its management goal of 7.7 deer/km2 due to a hemorrhagic disease outbreak that reduced the population by an estimated 57%. Density differences were great between the GSNWR and SCEEC properties most likely due to differences in harvest strategies. From these density estimates, historical refuge data, and the literature, a population model was created and predicted that the refuge would reach 7.7 deer/km2 by the 2019 fawning season. The model allows for harvest numbers to be incorporated to monitor and manage future population.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

White-tailed deer -- Effect of pesticides on.
White-tailed deer -- New Jersey -- Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Deer populations -- New Jersey -- Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Wildlife management -- New Jersey -- Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 80-85)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright