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Gaspar-Lopez E.,Seccion de Recursos Cinegeticos | Gaspar-Lopez E.,University of Castilla - La Mancha | Landete-Castillejos T.,Seccion de Recursos Cinegeticos | Landete-Castillejos T.,University of Castilla - La Mancha | And 13 more authors.
Reproduction in Domestic Animals | Year: 2010

In this article, we aimed to describe the changes related to mating season in red deer, especially those related to antler growth, body condition score, testosterone and cortisol. Antler growth was studied in 17 Iberian red deer males, including body weight, antler length, biometric measures and testosterone and cortisol determination during 15 months. Body weight, body condition score, thoracic perimeter (TP), neck perimeter (NL) and testicular diameter (TD) showed the highest values immediately before mating season (autumn), decreased during it and remained constant at winter. Antler growth lasted 158 days and produced antlers with a final length of 80.8 ± 2.0 cm. Testosterone and cortisol showed seasonal changes with maximum values at September and May, respectively. Final antler size was related positively to cranial longitude, TP, NL, TD and body weight at casting time. No relationship between weight loss during precedent mating season and current antler size was found, but spring recovery weight was positively related to final antler size. Final length was related to the descent in testosterone values during previous mating season and to body weight before it. Spring recovery weight was related to relative weight loss during previous mating season. These results suggest that there is no relationship between the reproductive effort performed during one season and the next year size of the antler. In contrast, antler size was positively related to spring recovery weight, in the sense that those deer that recover a higher percentage of body weight at the early stages of antler growth develop higher antlers. © 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Verlag.

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