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Roe deer and decapitated Anemone flowers

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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

The roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) has been locally extinct from the East Mediterranean since the beginning of the 20th century. A reintroduction program has been initiated in Israel where several deer have been released in the southern Carmel Mountains. The diet of roe deer is markedly different from that of other local ungulates. Their unique dietary preference for the generally unpalatable geophyte Anemone coronaria is especially notable. They typically consume anemone by "decapitating" the flowers, leaving the rest of the stem intact. We studied the consumption rate of anemone in four hand-reared deer in the Hai Bar Nature Reserve. During the flowering season, each deer consumed 65.5 ± 13.13 and 37.6 ± 13.85 anemone flowers/day in 2003 and 2004, respectively. These results indicate that roe deer may have a profound influence on anemone populations. Being secretive and flighty animals, roe deer are hard to detect. A preliminary survey conducted in Ramat HaNadiv Park, where a roe deer population of an unknown size exists, suggested that with proper calibration, the typical, easy-to-detect decapitated anemone flower might be used for monitoring roe deer presence and density.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Science and Science Education, University of Haifa ; 2: University of Adelaide, Faculty of Sciences, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences ; 3: Department of Science Education—Biology, Faculty of Science and Science Education, University of Haifa-Oranim


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