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Ungulate Research

Modeling White-tailed Deer, Axis, and Aoudad Habitat in the Texas Hill Country

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Photo credit(s): Gary / Adobe Stock

Links: Carsten Groos

Using information gained from surveys, camera traps, remote sensing and other GIS layers, the TCC is developing a model of white-tailed deer, axis deer, and aoudad habitat use in the Texas Hill Country.  This information will provide land managers with updated information on how two introduced species (aoudad and axis) are using the landscape, how they are affecting native white-tailed deer, highlight possible management concerns such as disease transmission pinch points, and provide information by which to make decisions on potential future management actions.

Pronghorn and Mule Deer Infectious Disease Research

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Photo credit(s): Gary / Adobe Stock

The TCC has completed initial inquiry into the genetic susceptibility of pronghorn to Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disease of great concern to wildlife biologists and managers. We have also performed the first attempt at regional surveillance of Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus in pronghorn and mule deer in Texas. Our findings will help inform pronghorn management in this region as wildlife disease issues stay at the forefront of wildlife management and One Health concerns.

Potential Disease Transmission via Natural and Man-Made Water Sources


Photo credit(s): Gary / Adobe Stock

As part of the collaboration with Texas Bighorn Society, the TCC will be continuing our initial work on water quality in bighorn sheep habitat. We will monitor water quality indices such as pH, dissolved oxygen, etc., and test for potential disease-causing bacteria relevant to big game species. Using this information we will assess the potential for direct or indirect disease transmission related to these surface water sources within the Trans Pecos. This research has the potential to greatly increase our understanding of disease transmission in thi sregion, and may give us another tool for wildlife management.

Pronghorn Habitat Use in the Texas Panhandle


Photo credit(s): Gary / Adobe Stock

In 2016, TCC joined Texas A&M - Kingsville and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) in a project to begin looking at pronghorn habitat use in the Texas panhandle, with a specific interest in use of agricultural crops. The objectives of the project are to investigate pronghorn resource selection, movements, survival, and diet composition (using metabarcoding analyses). This is an ongoing project. Partial funding was supplied by an award from Houston Safari Club Foundation.

Mule Deer Research in the Texas Panhandle

Two mule deer fighting with a topography change in the background.

Photo credit(s): Gary / Adobe Stock


This is a current project examining mule deer movements, home range, survival, and crop utilization in the Texas Panhandle. It is a large collaboration between TCC, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M Kingsville, Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 

Tri-Species Project: Habitat Use and Potential Disease Transmission

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Photo credit(s): Katherine / Adobe Stock

TCC is part of an ongoing long-term project with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University looking at movements and habitat use of bighorn sheep, mule deer, and invasive aoudad in the Trans-Pecos region.  This research aims to investigate habitat use and movements as they relate to competition and potential disease transmission within and among species. 


The TCC, specifically, is researching the species' genome, the respiratory microbiome communities within these species, and compiling baseline data on bloodwork and disease testing.

Invasive Axis Deer Ecology and Management in the Texas Hill Country

An axis deer buck and two does in high grass with trees and cacti in the background.

Photo credit(s): Matt Buchholz

The TCC is investigating axis deer impacts on riparian habitats, population dynamics, potential disease susceptibility, and genetic diversity in central Texas.  Collaborators on this research include the TTU Center at Junction, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Hill Country Alliance, partial funding from Houston Safari Club Foundation, and additional assistance from the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Data gained from this project will fill in a large information gap on the ecology of free-ranging invasive axis deer in Texas.

Elk Response to Prescribed Fire, Thinning, Competition and Predation in
North-Central New Mexico

A bull elk in the foreground flanked by five cow elk on a grassy slope.

Photo credit(s): Gary / Adobe Stock

Though TCC became involved in this research in 2015, the Large Mammal Monitoring portion of the Southwest Jemez Mountains Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project (CFLRP) started in 2012.  Collaborators on this research include the Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico State University, the Santa Fe National Forest, and the Jemez Pueblo. Researchers hope to evaluate elk habitat and resource selection on an actively restored landscape relative to mule deer competition and cougar and black bear predation. 

Pronghorn Fawn Survival near Fort Stanton, New Mexico


Photo credit(s): Gary / Adobe Stock

Pronghorn research near Fort Stanton Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area began in 2013, as a collaboration between TTU and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF). Dr. Conway joined the team in 2014.  By the end of the project in 2017, we were able to investigate translocated adult survival, annual fawn survival, causes of fawn mortality, adult doe habitat use and home range size near Capitan, NM, all of which helps better understand pronghorn ecology and informs population management decisions.

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