Great Basin Naturalist


Growing numbers of elk (Cervus elaphus) on winter ranges might adversely affect sympatric wintering mule deer (Odoeoileus hemionus) if diets of the two species are similar. Diets of elk and deer on a northern Utah range were analyzed for overlap in winter with microhistological analysis of fecal samples. Diets overlapped 71%. No significant difference was found in use of grasses or shrubs between elk and deer; however, use of forbs was significantly different. Shrubs comprised the largest proportion of the diets of both elk and deer. Deer might be under more severe dietary stress than elk on poor winter ranges.