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Distribution, density, and habitat use of the Korean water deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus) in Korea


Water deer (Hydropotes inermis) belong to the genus Hydropotes, which is ecologically well adapted for environments ranging from desert to forest. Water deer tend to occupy the richest areas between forest and grasslands. There are two distinct subspecies in far East Asia: one in China (H. inermis inermis), and the other in Korea (H. inermis argyropus). Despite being listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, little is known about the water deer. The species occurs in most areas of the Korean peninsula, except for Seoul and Jeju Island. Kyunggi Province near Seoul showed the lowest rate (56%) due to urbanization. There was a high difference in their presence between inland (81%) and coastal (60%) areas . In addition, large cities (67%) showed much lower rates than did rural areas (83%) where human population size is relatively low. Water deer are distributed differently based on habitat type, with differences in mean density observed among lowland (6.93 ind./km2), mountainous (1.91), and urban (1.27) areas. There was also a difference in mean density between low-elevation and high-elevation areas. Finally, whereas the deer preferred landscapes with 20°–25° of slope and broadleaf forest (P < 0.01), they did not avoid areas with other types of slopes and habitats.

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The authors thank ERC (2009-1419-1-6) and SWRRC (1-0-3), and Dr. R. Morrison for providing with critical review on this study.

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Correspondence to Sang-Don Lee.

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Kim, BJ., Oh, DH., Chun, SH. et al. Distribution, density, and habitat use of the Korean water deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus) in Korea. Landscape Ecol Eng 7, 291–297 (2011).

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