What Is the Ecological Niche of a Deer?

Deer live in mixed forests habitats, on wooded farmlands and even in suburban areas of established cities. In winter they take to coniferous forests for shelter. Deer are a prey species, providing food for coyotes, bobcats, cougars, wolves and occasionally humans. In turn, the species helps keep vegetation in check.

The two species of deer native to North America are the whitetail and the mule deer, and they are similar enough that they even interbreed. Subspecies include the Pacific blacktail, the Sitka deer of Alaska, the Coues deer in the American Southwest, and the smaller Florida Key deer. The whitetail deer is the most prolific, living throughout the lower 48 states, as well as from southern Canada to Panama.

Competition for food exists mostly within the species, which lives in small migrating groups. Males tend to dominate the available food, with the females and then the fawns getting their share. On an inter-species basis, occasionally deer compete with moose and snowshoe hares for winter vegetation.

Moose and deer habitat rarely intersect during the remainder of the year. Moose prefer to live around ponds and lakes where they have access to underwater and marsh plants. Deer prefer grass and leaves and rarely venture out into the water to feed.