How do social, ecological, and geographic diversity influence deer-human interactions across Indiana?

Authors: Taylor Stinchcomb*, Purdue University, Robert K Swihart, Purdue University, Zhao Ma, Purdue University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Natural Resources, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Social-Ecological Systems, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, White-tailed Deer, human dimensions, mixed methods, ArcGIS, adaptive management
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the eastern U.S., the convergence of overabundant populations of White-tailed Deer (WTD, Odocoileus virginianus) with expanding human communities has increased the frequency of deer-human interactions across rural to urban gradients. The management of these interactions typically focuses on property damage but increasing diversity in wildlife values accompanied by changing social-ecological geographies suggests that deer-human interactions should be examined from a broader social perspective and across multiple spatial scales. The state of Indiana recently revised their deer management goals to address these emerging challenges. Here, we take a mixed-methods approach to explore how Indiana residents currently perceive WTD populations, what outcomes they desire from WTD management, and how residents’ perceptions relate to social-ecological characteristics. Preliminary interviews indicate that Indiana residents hold diverse values for and perceptions of WTD. The next phase of research involves disseminating a survey to quantify how residents’ values, perceptions, and desired outcomes from deer management vary with demographic characteristics and spatial locations. Responses derived from a spatially explicit sample will be integrated with data collected on deer distribution, density and habitat characteristics. Using ArcGIS, we can map the probability of negative and positive deer-human interactions, providing an important decision-making tool for deer managers. Our study will contribute a refined understanding of how diverse social values influence deer-human interactions across Indiana. We will evaluate whether these interactions depend on local contexts, or whether we can generalize geospatial associations between wildlife values and deer ecology to regions with similar landscapes and human geographies.

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