Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Biological Sciences


Biological Sciences

Major Professor

Dr. Carla Penz

Second Advisor

Dr. Phil DeVries

Third Advisor

Dr. Simon Lailvaux


This study examined variation in ectoparasite density and grooming behavior of naturally occurring white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in southwest Alabama. Stimulus-driven grooming as well as the intraspecific body size and vigilance principles of programmed grooming were tested. During the rut, males had a higher average tick (Ixodidae) density than females and exhibited complete separation of tick parasitism between non-rutting and rutting periods, supporting the vigilance principle. Stimulus-driven grooming was supported, as both fawns and yearlings had significantly higher fly (Hippoboscidae) and combined fly/tick densities than adults, and fawns oral groomed at a significantly higher rate than adults, even in the absence of allogrooming. Programmed and stimulus-driven grooming of deer examined in this study were not mutually exclusive but ectoparasite dependent.


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