Date of Award

Winter 11-20-2020

Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology


Environmental and Forest Biology

Major Professor

Brian Underwood

Steering Committee Member

Jonathan Cohen

Steering Committee Member

Stacy McNulty


The potential consequences of climate warming on the behavior and distribution of endotherms pose management challenges. This is especially true for organisms that are able to exploit both natural and anthropogenic environments, such as the white-tailed deer. I developed a biophysical model of operative temperature based on various forms of heat transfer between deer and their environment on Fire Island National Seashore using measured variables collected from a small micrometeorological sensor network. I compared operative temperature to observed values of Vernon globe temperature in order to validate the use of the globe as a representation of heat exchange for deer. The globe was an adequate proxy, with minimal difference between the predicted and observed values and compatibility in patterns over the diel. Identifying critical thermal thresholds for deer in a changing landscape will be necessary in order to understand and address future human-wildlife interactions.