Evidence of Arboreal Lichen Use in Peatlands by White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus, in Northeastern Alberta
Keywords:White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus, arboreal lichen, peatlands, range expansion, northeastern Alberta
AbstractWithin the past 10 to 15 years, White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have extended their geographical range to include most of northern Alberta. In the boreal forest they are most abundant in well-drained upland habitat. We report the occurrence of unusually large numbers of deer seen in a large fen complex in the west side of the Athabasca River Caribou range in northeastern Alberta. Further, we report an observation that suggests that deer may be using arboreal lichen (old man’s beard; Bryoria spp. and Usnea spp.) as a winter food in this region. We discuss the potential ecological ramifications of this observation for Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in northeastern Alberta.
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