Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Modeling scenarios for the management of axis deer in Hawai‘i

November 12, 2021

Axis deer (Axis axis) are invasive species that threaten native ecosystems and agriculture on Maui Island. To mitigate negative effects, it is necessary to understand current abundance, population trajectory, and how to most effectively reduce the population. Our objectives were to examine the population history of Maui axis deer, estimate observed population growth, and use species-specific demographic parameters in a VORTEX population viability analysis to examine removal scenarios that would most effectively reduce the population. Only nine deer were introduced in 1959, but recent estimates of >10,000 deer suggest population growth rates (r) ranging between 0.147 and 0.160 even though >11,200 have been removed by hunters and resource managers. In VORTEX simulations, we evaluated an initial population size of 6,000 females and 4,000 males, reflecting the probable 3F:2M sex ratio, with annual removal rates of 10%, 20%, and 30% over a 10-year period. A removal rate of 10% resulted in a positive growth rate of 0.103 ± 0.001. A 20% removal rate resulted in only a slightly negative growth, while a 30% removal rate resulted in –0.130 ± 0.004. By increasing the ratio of females removed to 4F:1M in the 30% harvest scenario, the decline nearly doubled, resulting in –0.223 ± 0.004. Effectively reducing axis deer will most likely require an annual removal of approximately 20–30% of the population and with a greater proportion of females to increase the population decline. Selective removal of males may not only be inefficient, but also counterproductive to population reduction goals.

Publication Year 2021
Title Modeling scenarios for the management of axis deer in Hawai‘i
DOI 10.2984/75.4.8
Authors Steve C. Hess, Seth Judge
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Pacific Science
Index ID 70226891
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center