Evaluating the inﬂuence of energy and residential development
on the migratory behavior of mule deer
Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming,
Laramie, Wyoming 82071 USA
Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071 USA
Western Ecosystems Technology, Inc., 200 South 2nd Street, Laramie, Wyoming 82070 USA
Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Lakewood, Colorado 80225 USA
U.S. Geological Survey, Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Zoology and Physiology,
University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071 USA
Citation: Wyckoff, T. B., H. Sawyer, S. E. Albeke, S. L. Garman, and M. J. Kauffman. 2018. Evaluating the inﬂuence of
energy and residential development on the migratory behavior of mule deer. Ecosphere 9(2):e02113. 10.1002/ecs2.2113
Migratory ungulates are often exposed to anthropogenic infrastructure along their migration
routes. Understanding the inﬂuence of such development on migratory behavior is critical to successful
planning and conservation. Impermeable barriers have obvious and detrimental effects to migratory
ungulate populations, but the inﬂuence of semi-permeable barriers, where the connectivity of migration
habitat is maintained but the migration routes are compromised by anthropogenic development, remains
unclear. We evaluated the inﬂuence of development on the migratory behavior of individual mule deer
(Odocoileus hemionus) in western Wyoming, USA. We used ﬁne-scale movement data to evaluate the inﬂu-
ence of anthropogenic infrastructure on deer movement rates, stopover use, and ﬁdelity to migration routes
for individual animals across multiple seasons and years. Deer avoided human infrastructure when selecting
stopover sites. Fidelity to migration routes and stopover areas, as measured by the degree of spatial overlap
between years, was not inﬂuenced by development, except in one heavily developed area. Our results sug-
gested that deer increased rate of movement, reduced time in stopovers, and shifted stopovers in areas of
intense development. In most cases, deer maintained ﬁdelity to migration routes, regardless of development,
suggesting that deer mediated exposure to development by altering movement—rates and timing—rather
than the routes they traversed. This work adds to a growing number of studies indicating that development
can disrupt migratory behavior. Understanding how different types and intensities of development
inﬂuence migration can help inform land-use planning and conservation of migratory ungulates.
Key words: energy development; habitat fragmentation; habitat loss; migratory behavior; movement rate; mule deer;
route ﬁdelity; rural residential development; stopover.
Received 31 October 2017; revised 1 December 2017; accepted 15 December 2017; ﬁnal version received 21 January 2018.
Corresponding Editor: Eric M. Gese.
Copyright: © 2018 Wyckoff et al. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Migratory populations of diverse taxa are
declining globally (Robbins et al. 1989, Sanderson
et al. 2006, Flockhart et al. 2014, Monnahan et al.
2014), with habitat loss and fragmentation being a
leading cause of decline (Fischer and Lindenmayer
2007). In particular, terrestrial migrations that
expose ungulates to extensive and diverse anthro-
pogenic disturbances have led to population decli-
nes (Berger 2004, Bolger et al. 2008, Harris et al.
2009). The long-distance migrations of ungulates