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Range-Related Differences in Growth of Deer Reflected in Skeletal Ratios

David R. Klein
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1376985 226-235 First published online: 20 May 1964


The skeletal ratio femur/hind foot was employed to identify growth differences existing between two island populations of deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) in southeast Alaska. Skeletal ratios are a more reliable measure of growth differences than measurements of body weight or length because the skeleton can be measured more accurately. Also, the differential growth of skeletal parts reflects physiological age essentially independently of body size; therefore, the skeletal ratio is not as greatly influenced by genetic differences as are measurements of body weight and length. The deer populations on the islands studied show growth differences which are apparently attributable to differing levels in their annual nutrition. The use of the femur/hind foot ratio supports the thesis that these growth differences are of nutritional rather than genetic origin.

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