Assessment of Breeding Soundness in White-tailed Deer in Alabama
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
General Veterinary Medicine
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The deer family (Cervidae) has a nearly world-wide distribution, and deer farming has, in recent years, been gradually accepted as an economically promising industry. It is demonstrated that ungulate body size and horn/antler size are honest indicators of male sexual dimorphism and reproductive success. It is believed that infertility is unusual in natural populations; however, previous research identified variation in the quality of semen from individual deer. This suggests that post copulatory fertility success might be as important as the male phenotype, when evaluating reproductive success. Sperm motility, concentration, and morphology are known indicators of male reproductive ability. In deer, the relationship between spermatozoal defects and fertilization success has not well established, and a deeper knowledge of deer reproduction and fertilization success is still lacking. There is a need to establish standard protocols to evaluate semen quality in different cervid species and to expand the knowledge regarding the fundamental aspects of cervid reproductive biology. The specific objectives of this study were to: 1) investigate the seroprevalences of infectious reproductive tract pathogens; 2) assess semen quality; 3) investigate correlations between semen traits, age, and male phenotype; 4) describe correlation between seroprevalence of pathogens and semen quality in an enclosed free-ranging population of white-tailed deer in Alabama.