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Hints on Writing a Scientific Paper:

by John Koprowski, University of Arizona's Wildlife and Fisheries Science Program, and Linda Maddux, Willamette University's Hatfield Library

Scientific writing is a skill that must be honed and this only occurs through experience and thoughtful review of one's writing and the writing of others.  The purpose of this mildly interactive exercise is to enable you to explore scientific writing and to obtain hints on improving your writing style.  The manuscript below is fabricated and contains a number of rough spots from a stylistic standpoint.  Read the text and attempt to guess what might be wrong with highlighted text and then click on the link.  This will reveal wisdom far beyond your expectations...well maybe not this grand but you will receive a number of hints and links to assist with improving the quality of your manuscript.  Good luck!

Home Range Size of Lawn Deer (Odocoileus ornamentis):

Ecology of a Sessile Mammal

John L. Koprowski, Wildlife and Fisheries Science, School of Renewable Natural Resources,

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721

Submitted: 21 August 2000

Abstract: Lawn deer (Odocoileus ornamentis) are commensal mammals that have adapted well to 

urban life; however, the data are scant on the ecology of the species. I used detailed scan and focal

animal sampling in addition to radiotelemetry to elucidate the home range size of lawn deer in 

western Oregon. Home range size as estimated by the minimum convex polygon technique were

small and did not differ between the sexes. This extensive spatial analysis suggests that lawn deer 

represent the  first occurrence of a sessile mammal.

Key Words: Lawn deer, Odocoileus, space use, home range, sessile


The social organization of animals is an important consideration in the conservation of species and

if often correlated with susceptibility to extinction (Tallman and Thorsett 1999, Smith 1996). The 

importance of information on sociality was realized by Aldo Leopold (1948:48):

            Cutting across many of these properties is the habit in many species of forming

            gregarious units. The existing literature tells which species form coveys, herds,

            packs, and which do not, but it seldom suggests what these units consist of. The

            laymanís assumption that each unit is a family is usually incorrect. A brief

            summary of what little is know about this question is a necessary basis for an

            understanding of management technique.

Unfortunately, the social organization of many species is poorly known. Most mammals are 

solitary;  however, some do form elaborate social groupings such as in primates, ungulates, 

cetaceans, and carnivores (Hanna 1989). It is known that among deer sociality varies 

considerably from solitary species that can never join in any deer games to more social species

such as white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), which form groups of related females (Red

Nose Reindeer 1967). In many species of deer, male home ranges are greater than those of 

females likely related to the mating strategy of males (Bambi et al.1945, Clarisse 1979). The 

lawn deer (O. ornamentis) is a common species found in association with anthropogenically

modified  environments (Koprowski, pers. obs.) yet data is scant on space use of lawn deer in

urban areas.  Herein, I report the space use patterns of lawn deer and examine sexual 

dimorphism in home range size.


     Lawn deer were surveyed in Marion, Polk, Lane, Linn, Benton, and Multnomah counties, 

Oregon, USA, during June and December 1999. Groups and individuals were observed with 

binoculars from distances of >10 m. Unique markings enabled identification of individuals. Scan

sampling at 15 min intervals and focal animal sampling at 1 min intervals were conducted to

estimate distance moved by individuals. Additionally, I radiocollared 30 individuals (15 males, 15

females) by carefully approaching an individual and quickly securing the radiocollar to the

individual;  individuals appeared indifferent to the handling procedure and the affect of 

handling is believed negligible. Ranges V (Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Wareham, England)

was used to calculate minimum convex polygon estimates of home range size. Two-sample 

t-tests (Dytham 1999) were used to compare home range sizes between the sexes and 

between radiocollared and control individuals; one-sample t-tests were used to compare 

home range sizes of each sex to a home range of 0 ha.


48 lawn deer (30 males, 18 females) were observed for 102 hours. Home ranges of male 

(mean = 0.01 + 0.01 ha, t=0.02, df=29, p>0.99) and females (mean = 0.01 + 0.01 ha, t=0.02, 

df=16, p>0.99) as determined from observational data were small and didn't differ from 0 ha. 

Similarly, the two-sample t-test indicated that home ranges did not differ significantly

between radiocollared and control (uncollared) deer (Chart 1). The t-value was 0.01, the 

degrees of freedom were 28 and 18, and p-value was 0.9948. The only movements of lawn 

deer occurred during following disturbance by teenaged humans when deer were uprooted 

and fell into an apparent defensive prostrate posture. See Table 1 for information on home 

ranges of males and females.  Home ranges of the sexes did not differ (t=0.02, df=28, 16, 

p>0.99, Table 1).

Table 1. Home ranges of male and female lawn deer (Odocoileus ornamentis) in Oregon

                    Sex                     Mean Home Range Size + SE (Ha)

                    Male                               0.01 + 0.01

                    Female                            0.01 + 0.01


     Lawn deer are remarkably sedentary in their movements. Mammals are typically quite vagile in 

movements (Smith 1996); however, lawn deer appear to be sessile. Though it has been shown 

that a few college aged humans (Homo sapiens couchpotatensis) have been reported to have 

nearly sessile habits (Hawke 1979, pers. comm.), lawn deer appear to represent the first example 

of a truly sessile mammalian species.  Bambi, Thumper, and Owl (1945) and Clarisse (1979)

reported significant sexual dimorphism in other species of deer. Although the sex differences 

in home range size may be due to avoidance of predators such as Bumbles (Red Nose 

Reindeer 1967) and fire (Bambi et al. 1945) in other deer species, lawn deer do not 

demonstrate sexual dimorphism in space use. The sessile space use patterns of lawn deer 

are intriguing and suggest a divergent evolutionary pathway. More studies must elucidate 

factors that influence the ecology of lawn deer by investigating foraging and mating habits. 

By understanding the constraints on lawn deer, insight will be gained on the evolution of space 

use patterns in mammals.

Literature Cited

Bambi, GR, TG Thumper and IM Owl. 1945. A review of the social and mating systems of

                     deer. Science Today, 16:209-304.

Clarisse, AF. 1979. Mating tactics of male reindeer. Journal of Animal Biology, 12:341-350.

Dytham, C. 1999. Choosing and using statistics: a biologistís guide. Blackwell Science, Malden

                     Massachusetts, 218 pp.

Hanna, J. 1989. Social organization in animals. Buckeye Press, Columbus, 345 pp.

Hawke, SD. 1979. A new subspecies of studentóthe couch potato. Journal of College Zoology,


Leopold, A. 1948. Game management. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. 481 pp.

Red Nose Reindeer, R. 1967.  Sociality in deer: the story of my life.  Claus Press, Nome.  265 pp.

Smith, MT. 1996. Mammalian social organization: the definitive work. Pp. 42-59, in Mammalian

                    ecology (JL Koprowski and B Stebbins-Boaz, eds.). University of the Yukon Press,

    Yellowknife, 435 pp. Tallman, JG and GO Thorsett. 1999. Mammalian social organization: the definitive work with

                    sugar on it. Biennial Review of Biology, 45:23-79.

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