Growth of Male White-tailed Deer: Consequences of Maternal Effects

Abstract

Identifying maternal effects on offspring is critical to interpreting population dynamics, but the duration of maternal effects and which life-history traits they influence is not well understood. We quantified growth and development of male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) originating from the Black Hills in southwestern South Dakota and from eastern South Dakota in a controlled environment with high-quality nutrition. Despite being in good nutritional condition, males from the Black Hills ceased rapid growth 41 days earlier, were 29% smaller at asymptotic body mass, and grew significantly smaller antlers than males from eastern South Dakota. Females from eastern South Dakota were 14.9 kg larger than females from the Black Hills, yet birth mass of male offspring was similar for females from the 2 regions. Male offspring of 1stgeneration deer from the Black Hills attained a 30% larger asymptotic body mass and grew significantly larger antlers than their sires. Body mass and antler size of 2nd-generation males of Black Hills origin approached that of 1st-generation males from eastern South Dakota at maturity. Suppression in growth of 1st-generation males of the Black Hills and increased growth by their offspring supported an influence of maternal and grandmaternal condition during gestation on subsequent growth of offspring and highlighted the significance of nutrition during gestation. These intergenerational effects indicate that measures of animal condition and population performance might reflect past rather than current conditions, and illustrate the potential for time lags in responses of populations to improved environmental conditions.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Monteith2009GrowthOM, title={Growth of Male White-tailed Deer: Consequences of Maternal Effects}, author={Kevin L. Monteith and LOWELL E. SCHMITZ and Jonathan A. Jenks and JOSHUA A. DELGER}, year={2009} }