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Thread: Body and antler size study

  1. #1
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    Default Body and antler size study

    Here's an interesting study done on body and antler size of blacktail deer in California. As for body size, there appeared to be a connection in male body size to the density of the female population in the area not only when the male is young but when he was in gestation. And it appears that the effect not only follows a male through his lifetime, but can also affect future generations. They also showed they could increase male body size by aggressively harvesting does.

    If this effect carries through other species in other areas, specifically in Alaska, it could have implications when it comes to "abundance" management. There are a lot of inter-related factors that need to be considered.

    http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ae/2015/156041/
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
    - Jef Mallett

  2. #2

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    Interesting case study, and interesting data set, thanks for sharing twodux. Always good to inject the forum with some scientific literature.

    Not quite sure if these types of case studies will have management implications in Alaska though, even if the results of low female densities (perceived since they did not actually measure the female population size) clearly equated to bigger males. Overall, lower female numbers = lower male numbers, and F&G and most hunters are more concerned about how many can be harvested (above a minimum size for some species), and not the maximum achievable size. Plus, to duplicate these results the population density would have to be near or at carrying capacity, which I doubt is the case in most areas of accessible Alaska...

    That said, I would love for a study like this to be conducted on Alaskan Blacktail, (or any species anywhere in AK) the reality is that the year to year stochastic nature of the micro climates found on the different islands (or even bays or north v south facing slopes) would likely effect availability of winter forage opportunities and thus influence reproductive potential more than density alone and make interpretation difficult and results less certain. i.e. in a snowy year 100 does and 100 bucks would be concentrated to lower elevations and thus at "high density" whereas a warm wet year would allow those 200 deer to disperse over a wider area and thus effectively change the deer density. Of course, you would actually have to know population size before during and after as well... There are ways to control for that, and temperature, average snow elevation, and other variables could be included in the principal component analysis to see if they attribute to variability in male size (and I would imagine they would!).

    Just out of curiosity, what types of "abundance management" did you have in mind?

  3. #3
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    Winter range and snow depth definitely are the over-riding factors in healthy game herds in Alaska. A big snow year can over-ride any management plan there is because you can't totally plan for them. You never know when they will occur. All you can do is keep the herd at levels that allow a good harvest, but don't stress the winter habitat.

    The abundance management I had in mind would be one that pushes max herd populations without considering any other factors. For instance smaller males might have implications with winter survival or breeding.
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
    - Jef Mallett

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