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Dancing to a different tune: changing reproductive seasonality in an introduced chital deer population

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Kelly, C. L., Schwarzkopf, L., Gordon, I. J., Pople, A. R., Kelly, D. L. and Hirsch, B. T. (2022) Dancing to a different tune: changing reproductive seasonality in an introduced chital deer population. Oecologia, 200 (3-4). pp. 285-294. ISSN 1432-1939


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-022-05232-6


Male and female reproductive behaviour is typically synchronised. In species such as those in the family Cervidae, reproductive timing is often cued by photoperiod, although in females, it can be dependent on body condition. When a species is introduced to a novel environment, the environment changes, or responses of the sexes to such cues differ, asynchronous reproductive behaviour between males and females may occur. We investigated the seasonality of reproductive behaviour in introduced chital deer in northern Queensland by examining male antler phase in relation to female conception rates. We then analysed the influence of different variables likely to affect the timing of male and female reproductive physiology. The lowest percentage of chital in hard antler in any 1 month in this study was 35% (Fig. 1), but the average value was closer to 50%, thus there was a seasonal peak in antler phase linked with photoperiod. Females conceived at any time of year, but were strongly influenced by the amount of rainfall 3 months prior to conception. This resulted in varying conception peaks year-to-year that often did not correspond to the male’s peak in hard antler. In this system, a proportion of males and females were physiologically and behaviourally ready to mate at any time of the year. We predict that differences in the timing of the peaks between the males and females will lead to increased reproductive skew (variation in reproductive success among individual males). This pattern may select for different mating strategies or physiological mechanisms to increase reproductive success.Fig. 1The average percentage of male chital deer in hard antler by month from 2014 to 2019 in north Queensland. Values above the bars indicate the total number of males that were sampled in each month and the error bars indicate the standard error. In the month with the lowest % males in hard antler in the entire study (November, 2017), 35% of males were in hard antler

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Additional Information:Open access
Keywords:Invasive species Seasonality Reproductive physiology Reproductive skew Deer
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Animal control and ecology
Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Impact assessment
Animal culture > Deer
Live Archive:18 Aug 2022 03:34
Last Modified:08 Feb 2023 04:40

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