Success rates of reintroduction programs are low, often owing to a lack of knowledge of site-specific ecological requirements. A reintroduction program of European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus (L., 1758)) in a dry Mediterranean region in Israel provides an opportunity to study the bottleneck effect of water requirements on a mesic-adapted species. Four does were hand-reared and released in a 10 ha site consisting of an early succession scrubland and a mature oak forest. We measured daily energy expenditure (DEE) and water turnover (WTO) using the doubly labeled water technique during summer and winter. DEE was similar in the summer and winter, but there was a significant difference in WTO and in the source of gained water. In winter, WTO was 3.3 L/day, of which 67% was obtained from vegetation. In summer, WTO dropped to 2.1 L/day, of which only 20% was obtained from the diet and 76% was gained from drinking. When the water source was moved to a nonpreferred habitat, drinking frequency dropped significantly, but water consumption remained constant. In a dry Mediterranean environment, availability of free water is both a physiological contraint and a behavioral constraint for roe deer. This study demonstrates the importance of physiological and behavioral feasibility studies for reintroduction programs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology