We describe diurnal habitat used by red deer (Cervus elaphus L.) in two representative forests of Haute Ardenne. We captured 17 calves and 13 adults and fitted them with VHF transmitters (ear tags or collars). Each animal was radio-tracked at least once per week during the daylight hours and relocated by triangulation. To determine habitat use, we used compositional analysis. We defined use for each animal as the proportion of relocations in each vegetation association. Each relocation was weighed according to its accuracy (i.e., based on the confidence ellipse computation). We defined availability as the proportion in the area of each vegetation association within its home range (i.e., minimum convex polygon). Red deer calves preferred edges in open areas (e.g., clear-cuts) during their first 3 months of life. Adults used open coniferous [e.g., natural regeneration of spruce (Picea abies)] stands and edges between coniferous stands and other vegetation associations. Closed coniferous stands were preferred during winter and deer usually used the edges of habitat patches rather than the core areas, except in winter for coniferous stands. The deciduous stands [e.g., old growth stands of beech (Fagus sylvatica)] were usually avoided, except in winter when the edges of deciduous stands were used. The availability of coniferous stands and edges partly determined the size of the diurnal home ranges.
Bedding site Belgium Confidence ellipse Habitat selection Home range Radio-tracking