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The Effects of Captivity on Diet and Lifespan in White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) born and raised in captivity live, on average, three times longer than wild populations. Raising white-tailed deer in captivity brings about significant changes to their diet. Nutrition has been shown to play an important role in survival and reproduction of white-tailed deer. This study seeks to determine the effects of captivity on diet and health in white-tailed deer and how this affects their lifespan. Fecal samples from captive and wild white-tailed deer populations were collected, in northern Michigan, and analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and stable isotope analysis. The study results suggest that captive white-tailed deer consume significantly different diets and nutrients than wild populations, based on the stable isotope and principal component analysis.


Schipansky AK, Gumkowski E, Klemz M, Wilks S

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