Ditchkoff, Steve

Steve Ditchkoff, William R. and Fay Ireland Distinguished Professor

SFWS 2339 | (334) 844-9240 | ditchss@auburn.edu
BS, Michigan State University, 1992, Fisheries and Wildlife; MS, University of Maine, 1994, Wildlife Ecology; PhD, Oklahoma State University, 2000, Wildlife and Fisheries Ecology.
Teaching Responsibilities: Wildlife Ecology and Management, Wildlife Nutrition.
Research Interests: Ungulate ecology and management; wildlife nutrition; sexual selection and advertisement in mammals.
Website: Deer Lab Website
AuthorsYearTitlePublishing InfoLink
Burkett-Cadena, N. D., C. J. W. McClure, R. A. Ligon, S. P. Graham, C. Guyer, G. E. Hill, S. S. Ditchkoff, M. D. Eubanks, H. K. Hassan, and T. R. Unnasch. 2011Host reproductive phenology drives seasonal patterns of host use in mosquitoes.PLoS ONE 6(3):e17681.
Collier, B. A., S. S. Ditchkoff, C. R. Ruth, and J. B. Raglin. 2013Spotlight surveys for white-tailed deer: monitoring panacea or exercise in futility?Journal of Wildlife Management 77:165-171.
Collier, B. A., S. S. Ditchkoff, J. B. Raglin, and J. M. Smith.2007Detection probability and sources of variation in white-tailed deer spotlight surveys.Journal of Wildlife Management 71:277-281.
Ditchkoff, S. S., and R. L. deFreese.2010Assessing fluctuating asymmetry of white-tailed deer antlers in a three-dimensional context.Journal of Mammalogy 91:27-37.
Ditchkoff, S. S., D. B. Jolley, B. D. Sparklin, L. B. Hanson, M. S. Mitchell, and J. B. Grand. 2012Reproduction in a population of wild pigs (Sus scrofa) subjected to lethal control.Journal of Wildlife Management 76:1235-1240.
Ditchkoff, S. S., J. B. Raglin, J. M. Smith, and B. A. Collier.2005Capture of white-tailed deer fawns using thermal imaging technology.Wildlife Society Bulletin 33:1164-1168.
Ditchkoff, S. S., J. S. Lewis, J. C. Lin, R. B. Muntifering, and A. H. Chappelka.2009Nutritive quality of highbush blackberry (Rubus argutus) exposed to tropospheric ozone.Rangeland Ecology and Management 62:364-370.
Ditchkoff, S. S., S. R. Hoofer, R. L. Lochmiller, R. E. Masters, and R. A. Van Den Bussche2005Mhc-DRB evolution provides insight into parasite resistance in white-tailed deer.Southwestern Naturalist 50:57-64.
Ditchkoff, S. S., S. T. Saalfeld, and C. J. Gibson.2006Animal behavior in urban ecosystems: modifications due to human-induced stress.Urban Ecosystems 9:5-12
Ditchkoff, S.S., J.S. Lewis, J.C. Lin, R.B. Muntifering, and A.H. Chappelka.2009Nutritive quality of highbush blackberry (Rubus argutus) exposed to tropospheric ozone.Rangeland Ecology and Mangement 62: 364-370.
Gilliland, N. J., A. H. Chappelka, R. B. Muntifering, and S. S. Ditchkoff. 2015Changes in southern Piedmont grassland community structure and nutritive quality with future climate scenarios of elevated tropospheric ozone and altered rainfall patterns.Plant Biology 18:47-55.
Gilliland, N. J., A. H. Chappelka, R. B. Muntifering, F. L. Booker, and S. S. Ditchkoff. 2012Digestive utilization of ozone-exposed forage by rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus).Environmental Pollution 163:281-286.
Gilliland, N.J.*, A.H. Chappelka, R.B. Muntifering and S.S. Ditchkoff. 2015Changes in southern Piedmont grassland community structure and nutritive quality with future climate scenarios of elevated tropospheric ozone and altered rainfall patterns.Plant Biology (online: DOI 10.1111/plb.12324).
Gilliland, N.J., A.H. Chappelka, R.B. Muntifering, F.L. Booker and S.S. Ditchkoff.2012Digestive utilization of ozone-exposed forage by rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus).Environ. Pollut. 163: 281-286.
Governo, R. M., S. M. Shea, G. Somers, and S. S. Ditchkoff2006Using mandibular tooth row length to age yearling white-tailed deer.Wildlife Society Bulletin 34:345-350.
Hanson, L. B., J. B. Grand, M. S. Mitchell, D. B. Jolley, B. D. Sparklin, and S. S. Ditchkoff.2008Change-in-ratio density estimator for feral pigs is less biased than closed mark-recapture estimates.Wildlife Research 35:695-699.
Hanson, L. B., M. S. Mitchell, J. B. Grand, D. B. Jolley, B. D. Sparklin, and S. S. Ditchkoff. 2009Effect of experimental manipulation on survival and recruitment of feral pigs.Wildlife Research 36:185-191
Jackson, A. M., and S. S. Ditchkoff. 2013Survival estimates of white-tailed deer fawns at Fort Rucker, Alabama.American Midland Naturalist 170:184-190.
Jolley, D. B., S. S. Ditchkoff, B. D. Sparklin, L. B. Hanson, M. S. Mitchell, and J. B. Grand.2010Estimate of herpetofauna depredation by a population of wild pigs.Journal of Mammalogy 91:519-524
Karns, G. R., A. M. Holland, T. D. Steury, and S. S, Ditchkoff. 2014Maternal life history of white-tailed deer: factors affecting fetal sex allocation, conception timing, and senescence. Evolutionary Ecology Research 16:165-178.
Karns, G. R., and S. S. Ditchkoff. 2013Trauma-induced malformed antler development in white-tailed deer.Wildlife Society Bulletin 37:832-837.
Karns, G. R., and S. S. Ditchkoff. 2012Antler breakage patterns in white-tailed deer.Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 66.
Lewis, J. S., S. S. Ditchkoff, J. C. Lin, R. S. Muntifering, and A. H. Chappelka2006Nutritive quality of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and eastern gammagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) exposed to tropospheric ozone.Rangeland Ecology and Management 59:267-274
McCoy, J. C., and S. S. Ditchkoff. 2012Patterns of fecal hormones in a fenced population of white tailed deer.Wildlife Society Bulletin 36:641-646.
McCoy, J. C., S. S. Ditchkoff, J. B. Raglin, B. A. Collier, and C. Ruth. 2013Factors influencing survival of white-tailed deer fawns in coastal South Carolina.Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 4:280-289.
McCoy, J.C., S.S. Ditchkoff, T.D. Steury.2011Bias associated with baited camera sites for assessing population characteristics of white-tailed deer.Journal of Wildlife Management 75(2):472-477.
Newbolt, C. H. and S. S. Ditchkoff. 2009Effects of environmental conditions on performance of vaginal implant transmitters.Journal of Wildlife Management 73:303-305.
Passler, T., H. L. Walz, S. S. Ditchkoff, E. van Santen, K. V. Brock, and P. H. Walz. 2012Distribution of bovine viral diarrhoea virus antigen in persistently infected white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).Journal of Comparative Pathology 147:533-541.
Passler, T., M. S. Marley, M. F. Chamorro, C. H. Newbolt, S. S. Ditchkoff, H. S. Maxwell, and P. H. Walz. 2012Evaluating transmission of bovine viral diarrhea virus to cattle by exposure to carcasses of persistently infected white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine 10:48-53.
Passler, T., P. H. Walz, S. S. Ditchkoff, H. L. Walz, M. D. Givens, and K. V. Brock.2008Evaluation of hunter-harvested white-tailed deer for evidence of bovine viral diarrhea virus infection in Alabama.Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 20:79-82.
Passler, T., P. H. Walz, S. S. Ditchkoff, K. V. Brock, R. W. DeYoung, A. M. Foley, and M. D. Givens. 2009Cohabitation of pregnant white-tailed deer and cattle persistently infected with bovine viral diarrhea virus results in persistently infected fawns.Veterinary Microbiology 134:362-367.
Passler, T., P. H. Walz, S. S. Ditchkoff, M. D. Givens, H. S. Maxwell, and K. V. Brock. 2007Experimental persistent infection with bovine viral diarrhea virus in white-tailed deer.Veterinary Microbiology 122:350-356.
Passler, T., S. S. Ditchkoff, M. D. Givens, K. V. Brock, R. W. DeYoung, and P. H. Walz.2010Transmission of bovine viral diarrhea virus among white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).Veterinary Research 41:20
Saalfeld, S. T., and S. S. Ditchkoff.2007Survival of neonatal white-tailed deer in an exurban population.Journal of Wildlife Management 71:940-944.
Samoylova, T. I., A. M. Cochran, A. M. Samoylov, B. Schemera, A. H. Breiteneicher, S. S. Ditchkoff, V. A. Petrenko, and N. R. Cox. 2012Phage display allows identification of zona pellucida-binding peptides with species-specific properties: Novel approach for development of contraceptive vaccines for wildlife.Journal of Biotechnology 162:311-318.
Smith, T. N., M. D. Smith, D. K. Johnson, and S. S. Ditchkoff. 2014Evaluation of continuous-catch doors for trapping wild pigs.Wildlife Society Bulletin 38:175-181.
Sparklin, B. D., M. S. Mitchell, L. B. Hanson, D. B. Jolley, and S. S. Ditchkoff.2009Territoriality of feral pigs in a highly persecuted population on Fort Benning, Georgia.Journal of Wildlife Management 73:497-502.
Townsend, D. E., S. S. Ditchkoff, and S. D. Fuhlendorf.2007Species-specific transmitter height influences error of ground-based radio-telemetry.Wildlife Biology 13:98-101.
Williams, B. L., R. W. Holtfreter, S. S. Ditchkoff, and J. B. Grand. 2011Efficiency of time-lapse intervals and simple baits for camera surveys of wild pigs.Journal of Wildlife Management 75:655-659.
Williams, B. L., R. W. Holtfreter, S. S. Ditchkoff, and J. B. Grand. 2011Trap style influences wild pig behavior and trapping success.Journal of Wildlife Management 75:432-436.

Current Research at the DeerLab:

Antler breakage patterns in white-tailed deer

Researchers have long been interested in determining the factors that contribute to antler breakage in deer. Breakage has often been attributed to factors such as nutritional stress; however, very little attention has been given to physical characteristics of antlers, such as beam length and number of tines, that may also influence antler breakage patterns. Gabe Karns is investigating this topic using nearly 10 years of shed antlers from Three Notch Wildlife Research Area.

Effects of harvest strategy, adult sex ratios, and recruitment on population dynamics       Predictive models allow us to simulate how populations of deer will respond to various management actions and fluctuations in important factors impacting wildlife populations, such as fawn survival. These simulations can then be used to make informed decisions when selecting appropriate management actions. Gabe Karns and Clint McCoy are generating predictive models and using these models to investigate the relative roles of harvest strategy, adult sex ratio, and recruitment on herd dynamics.
Evaluating specific causes of “spike on a side” antler growth patterns

“Spike on a side” antler growth patterns are highly prevalent in some regions of the U.S., and the specific causes for this are largely undetermined. Many hunters speculate that genetics are the cause of these growth patterns while biologists often argue that these growth patterns are the result of pedicle damage or bodily injury. Gabe Karns is taking a look at a large sample of hunter harvested “spike on a side” deer in an effort to determine the specific causes and learn more about this interesting topic.

Relationships between fawn survival and coyote predation at Brosnan Forest, S.C.     Coyotes have expanded their range into extreme eastern portions of the U.S. during recent years, and their presence has impacted deer populations. Clint McCoy is taking a look at how the relatively recent increase in abundance of coyotes at Brosnan Forest, S.C. has impacted fawn survival and the overall deer population. Clint is using nearly 5 years of fawn survival data, deer population surveys, along with predator trapping records to evaluate the relative impacts of coyotes on the deer population at the forest.
Relative influences of maternal condition and timing of breeding on fetal sex ratios
It has long been hypothesized that maternal condition strongly influences fetal sex ratios. While this may be true to some extent, other factors likely also play an important role. Angela Jackson and Gabe Karns are taking a look at spring doe harvest data from various areas of Alabama to investigate the role of breeding date on fetal sex ratios. Specifically, they are looking at how breeding date relative to the date of the peak of rut in the area the animals were harvested influences sex ratio of fawns.
Development of a spatial modeling tool to evaluate deer movement data
Deer researchers often put GPS collars on deer to investigate movement patterns. However, current methods only allow for movement information to be evaluate in terms of how twisting or “tortuous” are the movement patterns. Clint McCoy and Gabe Karns are developing a modeling tool for use in analyzing deer movement data that will allow researchers to get an idea of the spatial area animals cover relative to movement patterns in additon to the complexity of movement paths.
Relationships between buck movement patterns during the breeding season and age class
Bucks employ various searching strategies for receptive does during the breeding season in an effort to acquire greatest number of breeding opportunities, and these strategies my differ between age classes of bucks. Gabe Karns and Clint McCoy are using movement data from GPS collared bucks at Brosnan Forest and Three Notch to investigate relationships between buck movements during the breeding season and age class.
Factors influencing buck breeding success at Auburn Captive Facility
Pete Acker is part of a long-term research project at the Auburn Captive Facility taking a look at buck breeding success. The goal of this projected is to determine how a buck’s age, body size, and antler growth influcne his breeding success. To do this, we have captured almost all of the adult bucks and does and have genetic samples for each. We capture each buck each year and measure body size and antler growth. We then take genetic samples from offspring to determine paternity and evalute factors that contribute to a buck being a successful breeder. An important component of this project is acquiring genetic sample from fawns as soon as possible after birth to minimize possible bias associated with not sampling fawns that die early in life. Pete is using VIT’s (vaginal implant transmitters) to get our hands on fawns hours after birth and ensure our sample data is reflective of the population.
Factors influencing doe breeding success at Auburn Captive Facility
Tim Neuman is part of a long-term research project at the Auburn Captive Facility taking a look at doe breeding success. The goal of this projected is to determine how a doe’s age, body size, and genetics influence her breeding success. To do this, we have captured almost all of the adult does and have genetic samples for each. We attempt to capture each doe every year and measure body size. We then take genetic samples from offspring to determine maternity and evaluate factors that contribute to a doe being a successful breeder. An important component of this project is acquiring genetic sample from fawns as soon as possible after birth to minimize possible bias associated with not sampling fawns that die early in life. Tim is also using VIT’s (vaginal implant transmitters) to get his hands on fawns hours after birth and ensure our sample data is reflective of the population.
Evaluation of interval length settings on camera survey data     Trail cameras are frequently used to learn more about characteristics of populations of deer, such as age structure, density, and sex ratio. Camera density and survey duration have received considerable attention from researchers looking to evaluate and improve survey methods; however, relatively little attention has been given to determining the optimal interval length between pictures. Pete Acker is conducting this research at the Auburn Captive Facility and taking a look at how various picture interval settings influence other survey parameters, such as camera density and survey duration, to determine optimal interval settings.

Wildlife Food Plot Establishment – WILD 1100 – Fall

Wildlife Ecology and Management II – WILD 5290 – Spring

Wildlife Ecology and Management II Lab – WILD 5291 – Spring

Wildlife Nutritional Ecology – WILD 7200 – Fall of odd years

Current Topics in Wildlife – WILD 7970

Wildlife Food Plot Establishment – WILD 1100

This course is designed to introduce students to the how and why of food plot establishment for white-tailed deer.

Wildlife Ecology and Management II – WILD 5290

This course is designed to acquaint students with life histories and management of the major mammalian groups found in North America, with special emphasis on the southeastern United States.

Wildlife Ecology and Management II Lab – WILD 5291

This course is designed to supplement lectures from WILD 5290 and provide an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned with regards to life-history and management of mammalian wildlife.

Wildlife Nutritional Ecology – WILD 7200

This is a course designed to acquaint graduate students with principles of nutritional ecology among various taxa of free-ranging wildlife

Current Topics in Wildlife – WILD 7970

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