Abstract

Title:  Environmental Influences on Conception Date Variation in White-tailed Deer.
Author(s): ike Dye, Steve Demarais, Bronson Strickland, Chad Dacus, Parks, Harry A. Jacobson, Dale Prochaska
Year: 2008
Abstract: Understanding the factors that influence timing of reproduction can be of value to wildlife managers. I used estimated conception dates of confined individual deer in Texas and Mississippi and wild deer populations within Mississippi to document natural variation within individuals and populations, and to determine if age or moon phase explained conception date variation. I used a one sample t-test to determine accuracy of moon phase as a predictor of conception date at the individual and population levels. I used a mixed model ANOVA to determine effects of age on individual- level variation. Mean conception date of confined individual deer was 30 November with a median of 25 November, standard deviation of 11.9 days and a mean range of 31 days. Mean conception date for wild populations in Mississippi was 1 January with a median of 31 December, standard deviation of 13 days, and a mean range of 46 days. Annual population mean conception date had a standard deviation of 4 days and a range of 12 days. Moon phase did not predict accurately conception date for individuals or populations of deer in the southern U.S. Individual does 2.5 years old bred earlier than does 1.5 and 3.5 years old; however, the difference was minimal and may have been influenced by the mean gestation used to determine conception date. Further assessment of the individual variation in conception date and potential environmental cues is warranted.

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