Comparative characteristics of the geophagic activity of red deer (Cervus elaphus L., 1758, Cervidae, Artiodactyla) in Yakutia in the native and invasive parts of its range.
Red deer (Cervus elaphus L., 1758) geophagia has been recorded using camera traps on five natural salt licks in Yakutia: the native part (two salt licks) and the expansion zone of its range (three salt licks). A chemical analysis has revealed that the content of most chemical elements is richer in animal solonetzic soils in the native part of the range than in soils of the invasive part. In total, 295 camera trap days were conducted. A total of 238 single and group visits of salt licks were recorded over this period. The stay of 300 red deer on salt licks, including repeat visits of the same individuals, was recorded. The identification of individuals by age and sex revealed only 55 individuals: 28 males and 27 females. The maximum number of deer in simultaneous geophagia was five individuals. The average duration of red deer geophagia (M±m) was 13.8±1.4 min (limit 1-98; n=232). The duration of geophagia was 1.5 times longer in the invasive part of their range than in the native part. The intense visiting of salt licks by deer was registered in the darkest time of day, i.e., from 00:00 to 04:00, while the lowest number of visits was observed at sunset, i.e., from 20:00 to 00:00. The visitation of salt licks by months is higher in May-June and decreases from July. The sex ratio of individuals that visited the salt licks was 50.9% males and 49.1% females.