The population of white tailed deer in Springfield, Missouri has been subject to change over recent years and will continue to change as time goes on. Large portions of the change seen in the deer population can be attributed to urbanization of Springfield and surrounding areas. To better understand what kind of changes urbanization has brought this experiment will compare data from past years of research to data collected during our experiment. The population of Springfield has been growing at a steady rate for the past 30 years with population size increasing by over 27,000 people and will soon be over 200,000 (“Springfield Missouri Population 2018”). With the growth in population there has been a wave of urbanization.
With this large boom in urbanization the question of how this is affecting local populations of deer can be raised and possibly expanded to other species of animals and even plants. The hypotheses being tested in the experiment will be: The urbanization of Springfield has not changed the deer population (i.e. population size, stress levels, food consumption, and reproductive rates) (H?) and The urbanization of Springfield has changed the deer population (i.e. population size, stress levels, food consumption, and reproductive rates) (H?). These factors that will be tested have been identified as key way that urbanization would likely change the population of deer in Springfield, Missouri and surrounding areas.
To determine how these factors have been affected over the years multiple statistical tests will be performed to find whether or not the data has changed. A t-test will be used to determine whether or no the data sets are the same or different and an ANOVA test will show how well the data sets from past and future compare to a mean set of values.
Using data taken from Springfield measurements in 2005 the deer density of the area is 15 deer or less per square kilometer (km²) (Walters). For this experiment the population of deer in the year 2020 will be tested to find the population density for deer in Springfield and its surrounding areas. By testing this the effect that the growing urbanization of springfield and what possible effects it may have on future populations of deer as time goes on will be determined. Urbanization provides different environments for deer, environments that are safer from natural predators and provide stable food sources. However, urbanization also provides a dangerous aspect of life with automobile deaths, in urban areas accidents account for an average of 90 percent of doe mortalities and 63 percent for bucks (Pierce). The collection of this deer density data in 2020 will provide a deeper look in how urbanization has affected the population of deer in Springfield.
Taking into account the type of food deer eat on a regular basis can also reveal what type of effect urbanization has brought upon deer. The normal food consumption for deer consists of forbs, fruits, leaves, grass, and grains. These foods contain high levels of measurable protein, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium that can be tested for in deer feces (Vangilder 711). All of the food can be used to define whether a deer is satisfying its nutritional needs. Each of these is used to satisfy a different type of nutritional need for deer. Taking data from deer fecal samples an average amount of each type of food is found. Recovery of each food type is difficult work, but can be identified a large portion of the time (Zyznar 506). Through the research to be performed in 2020 this experiment will investigate the materials found in deer feces throughout Springfield. This comparison of data from two separate time periods will be able to present whether a deer is eating more or less of one food source than another. If a deer is eating less of one thing this may suggest that its habitat or source of food is being destroyed or taken away due to urbanization, or that the urban environment has provided the deer with a new source of food.
The urbanization of Springfield can also have an effect on the reproduction rates of deer. Studies suggest that the deer reproduction rates decreases and the population density increases, or as the population grows closer to its carrying capacity (Pierce). The rate of reproduction is on average about two fawns per year for 66 percent of the female population of deer in the midwest (Green). The reproductive rates can be affected by the urbanization of Springfield because of the decrease in habitat the deer experience. With a decrease in habitat area there will be an increase in population density and that brings a decrease in reproduction rates.
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