• Observing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) behavior in Northwestern Vermont Using Trail Cameras

      Garneau, Danielle; Cole, Brittany (2016)
      Trail cameras are an increasingly popular and reliable non-invasive technique in wildlife ecology surveys. They have proven to be reliable, cost-efficient, and critical tools for gaining understanding of common and elusive species in a cost-effective manner. The purpose of this study was to observe white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) behavior (e.g., foraging, yard preference, social group) in rural, urban, and agricultural edge sites in northwestern Vermont with the use of trail cameras. I predicted in colder temperatures and deeper snow, white-tailed deer (Ododoileus virginianus) would decrease daily activities and increase group size, as well as prefer densely forested areas for protection. I also predicted white-tailed deer to be most active in dawn/dusk hours. Species richness was greatest in camera observations at the rural (n = 6), agricultural edge (n = 5), and urban sites (n = 3). White-tailed deer were observed three times as often in spring 2016 as compared to fall 2015. Predators were observed at all sites and included eastern coyote (Canis latrans) and red (Vulpes vulpes) and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). Camera data suggest that deer were observed more often in urban and agricultural edge habitat in the fall, whereas more observations occurred in rural habitats in the spring. Patterns in diel activity show that white-tailed deer were most active at dusk, dawn, and during crepuscular hours equally at the agricultural edge, urban, and rural sites, respectively. Habitat-specific thermal properties were observed as white-tailed deer were observed most often at temperatures between (31 - 40°F) at agricultural edge and urban, and (11 - 20°F) at rural sites. Habitat-specific behavioral changes were noted such that at the agricultural edge and urban site, the white-tailed deer displayed vigilance, foraging, and walking proportionally throughout the study, whereas at the rural site walking and foraging were the most common behaviors. White-tailed deer are common to New England forests and serve as excellent species for study using non-invasive techniques, such as game cameras. Landscape- and stand-level habitat characteristics appear to influence white-tailed deer behavior as one considers moderation of temperature, diel movement, and grouping.
    • Remote Video Observation and Quantification of Domestic Animal Behavior in Relation to Backyard Wildlife

      Garneau, Danielle; Bliss, Amanda; Dreier-Lawrence, Gillian (2015)
      Animal-borne and remote video cameras can provide important information on animal behavior, response to other animals and stimuli, and environmental factors. These technologies facilitate the capture of such behavior without the direct influence of humans and behaviors that take place which prove difficult for humans to access. Domestic animals can have strong impacts on local wildlife. The impact of domestic cats has been studied, but there is a lack of information about domestic dogs. We sought to use an animal-borne camera (GoPro) and two trail cameras in order to both test the technology and to gain insight into domestic dog and wildlife interactions. Four separate sniffing behaviors of a domestic dog were quantified. Free roaming wildlife was identified and any interactions were recorded. We observed only indirect interactions between the domestic dog subject and wildlife. Subject was exposed to known and unknown olfactory stimuli (lure) during these experiments in order to elicit a behavioral response. A basic check sheet was used to tally sniffing behaviors of the subject. We found that the sniff air behaviors were more difficult to observe on the GoPro than on the trail camera. In conclusion, we found the use of the GoPro to be insufficient for collecting scientific data; however, the trail cameras were very effective at capturing wildlife behaviors. A variety of other projects utilizing this technology have been very successful, so we suggest several alterations for future projects.