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Response in Nighttime Activity of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to Lunar Cycle and Cloud Cover

Troy A. Ladine1,* and Lindsey Settles1

1Department of Biology, East Texas Baptist University, Marshall, TX 75670. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 19, Issue 2 (2020): 325–332

From 14 October 2014 through 31 November 2018, we used trail cameras to investigate the relationship between nighttime activity of Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer) and 2 extraneous variables (lunar cycle and cloud cover). We hypothesized that greater amounts of illumination would positively affect the nighttime activity of White-tailed Deer. Our findings supported our hypothesis indicating that both lunar cycle and cloud cover affect the activity of the species. Nighttime activity decreases as illuminance of the moon decreases through the lunar cycle (Number of detections: full moon = 578, new moon = 232, first quarter = 386, third quarter = 329). Lowest activity occurred on nights when illuminance was the lowest (e.g., new moon with overcast skies) and highest activity on nights when illuminance was the greatest. The amount of illumination may be important regarding White-tailed Deer avoidance of predators.

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