Cooperative Research Units
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Movement and habitat use of sika and white-tailed deer on Assateague Island National Seashore

Sonja Christensen with captured sika deer


July 2006 - August 2008


This research project was conducted to describe habitat use of sika deer (Cervus nippon) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and possibly attribute the effects of ungulate herbivory to specific deer species, if spatial separation in habitat use could be identified. Sturm (2007) conducted an exclosure study to document the effect of feral horse (Equus caballus) herbivory, deer herbivory, and horse and deer herbivory combined on plant communities. Sturm (2007) found that ungulate herbivory reduced plant species richness, evenness, and diversity in the maritime forest and affected species composition in all habitats studied. Sturm (2007) also found that herbivory on some species could be directly attributable to either horse or deer. However, the effects of sika and white-tailed deer herbivory could not be separated via an exclosure study design because of the difficulty of passively excluding one deer species but not the other.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Wagner, T., D.R. Diefenbach, A.S. Norton, and S.A. Christensen. 2011. Using multilevel models to quantify heterogeneity in resource selection. Journal of Wildlife Management 75:1788-1796. Abstract |  Download  | 

Technical Publications

  • Diefenbach, D. R., and S. A. Christensen. 2009. Movement and habitat use of sika and white-tailed deer on Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR—2009/140. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA.Abstract |


  • Christensen, S. A. 2010. Movement and habitat use of sika and white-tailed deer on Assateague Island National Seashore. Thesis, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA.Download  | 

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 3

Masters Students: 4

Phd Students: 3

Post Docs: 1

University Staff: 3

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 22

Scientific Publications: 90

Presentations: 124



Funding Agencies

  • Assateague Island National Seashore


Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
  2. Pennsylvania Game Commission
  3. Pennsylvania State University
  4. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  5. U.S. Geological Survey
  6. Wildlife Management Institute