Abstract

Title:  Use of Dental Measurements to Estimate Age of Yearling White-tailed Deer.
Author(s): Stephen M. Shea - St. Joe Timberland Company and Robin Governo, M. Keith Causey, and Stephen S. Ditchkoff - Auburn University
Year: 2002
Abstract: Because breeding chronology of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is very asynchronous in the Southeast, we attempted to develop a model that would predict age of yearling deer using dental measurements. Tooth eruption data were collected from 39 and 41 'known-aged captive deer from Florida and Alabama, respectively. Because eruption of the third molar occurs predictably during development, we predicted a model incorporating eruption of the third molar could be a useful tool for aging yearling deer. Using mandible impressions, we calculated length of dentition from the first premolar to the anterior portion of the third molar and an eruption value of the third molar by summing heights from the lingual gumline to the crest of each of the three cusps. Length of dentition was a stronger predictor of age (r2=0.93 and 0.92 for males and females, respectively) than eruption of the third molar (r2=0.77 and 0.79 for males and females, respectively). The following equations predicted age (days) from dentition length (millimeters) for males and females, respectively: In (age) = -4.34 + 2.45 * In (dentition length), and In (age) = -4.62 + 2.54 * In (dentition length), where In is the natural logarithm. These models predicted from 50-75% of test jaws to within 7 days of the actual age, while models using eruption of the third molar predicted <25% to within 7 days. These data suggest length of dentition can be used as an index to age in yearling deer. Data collected from hunter-harvested deer could provide large sample sizes that could be used to determine differences in breeding seasons and evaluate effects of antlerless harvest on conception dates.

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