Mate Choice, Reproductive Success, and How Population Demography Influences Fawning Season of White-tailed Deer
Type of Degreethesis
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
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Mate choice of white-tailed deer based on age and body size is poorly understood. I studied a captive population to evaluate mate choice and reproductive success. Age differences between mated pairs did not differ from random pairings and I found no apparent relationship of skeletal size between mated pairs. My results highlight the plasticity of mating success and reveal the mating system of white-tailed deer has evolved to maximize fertility. Sex ratio and age class may influence timing and duration of the fawning season. I recorded birth date of fawns born within a 174-ha captive facility. The herd was intensively monitored which allowed me to document an earlier shift in fawning following a maturation of age structure. Earlier fawning may be important for neonatal development and survival, especially in areas of the Southeast where coyotes are reducing recruitment. I hypothesize managers can increase neonate development and survival by increasing male age structure.