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Environmental and Genetic Components of Antler Growth in White-Tailed Deer

Kim T. Scribner, Michael H. Smith, Paul E. Johns
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1381509 284-291 First published online: 25 May 1989


Data were obtained from white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) collected during 1978–1979 (n = 588) to examine spatio-temporal variation in antler growth, and the relationship between multilocus heterozygosity (), age-specific antler characters, and overall antler growth. Antler growth is a curvilinear function of age. No significant differences in antler characters were noted between deer from swamp and upland regions. Deer collected during 1978 exhibited greater body size, fat levels, and antler size than those collected during 1979. Body size, fat levels, and antler characters were related significantly to heterozygosity. Main-beam diameter and length of antlers varied significantly among deer with different levels of . Deer with higher levels of exhibited greater asymptotic antler size, body mass, and fat levels. Higher hetero-zygosity may influence metabolic efficiency resulting in enhanced nutritional condition, body stature, and antler size that potentially could affect dominance status and reproductive success.

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