The white-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus seminolus) is the only large herbivore in South Florida [FDG+94]. Everglades deer are considerably smaller than deer found farther north, at about two-thirds the weight of those found in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. Deer are most numerous in the prairies and rocky pinelands. The animals often wade in water to feed on marsh plants; however, extremely high water may force them onto elevated tree islands, possibly resulting in death by starvation if flooding is prolonged. Deer are a major prey item for the endangered Florida panther. A panther will kill about one deer per week when hunting is good [WBR89].
The SIMPDEL deer component simulates the aging, reproduction, foraging, growth, and mortality of each individual deer on a daily time step over a period of 23 years (the time period over which hydrology data are available). The deer component is driven by hydrology and vegetation inputs. High water levels restrict deer movement and water levels also restrict vegetation growth.
At the start of the simulation, an initial population of deer is generated using a user-selected population size read from an input file. Age, location, sex, body weight, mating day, and other characteristics are determined randomly and stored in a data structure for each individual.