Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology


Environmental and Forest Biology

Major Professor

Dr. H. Brian Underwood

Steering Committee Member

Lindi Quackenbush

Steering Committee Member

Mark Lomolino


Expanding urban white-tailed deer populations are causing concerns for wildlife professionals and residents. I used distance sampling to estimate deer population density and abundance in the eastside communities of Syracuse, New York. I estimated a population size of between 93 - 159 deer (mean: 121) for 28.9 square kilometers of the study area. I classified high resolution orthoimagery and identified patches of cover with deer behavior thresholds and an animal-centric delineation algorithm. I predicted deer abundance from binomial mixture models and a suite of landscape covariates. Model weight of evidence supported variables corresponding to cover, food, and water constituents on the landscape. Deer population density predicted from abundance modeling was 73% higher than the distance sampling estimate indicating a substantial bias. Because assumptions associated with distance sampling and mixture modeling were reasonably met, low encounter rates with deer during sunrise surveys are the probable cause of the observed discrepancy.


Data for study available:

Kilheffer, Chellby R, 2019, "Data Collected for Report Entitled ''Evaluating Legacy Effects of Hyperabundant White-Tailed Deer in Forested Stands of Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks, New York",, Harvard Dataverse, V1, UNF:6:AYPnuALlDWUIfnqK0JzTaA== [fileUNF]