Female mule deer, related by maternal descent, form clans while males disperse as individuals or aggregate in groups of unrelated individuals, all maintained with dominance hierarchies.
The social system of mule deer consists of clans of females related by maternal descent. These clans are the facultative resource defenders. Males disperse as individuals or aggregate in groups of unrelated individuals.
During winter and spring, the stability of female clans and male groups is maintained with dominance hierarchies.
Increases in strife and alarm behavior and decreases in play among fawns occur as population density increases. The frequency of aggressive behavior between the sexes remains low year-round.