Mississippi State University
Strickland, Bronson K.
Date of Degree
Graduate Thesis - Open Access
Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
Master of Science
College of Forest Resources
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
Aspects of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) reproductive ecology remain understudied. The accuracy of the fetal age estimation equation in current use is unknown. Knowledge is also limited for female choice of secondary sexual traits like antlers and body size. To address previous fetal estimation equations, I developed a model that included litter characteristics using 110 fetuses with known ages of 54 to 175 days. To address female choice, I manipulated antler size and paired large and small males while controlling allometrically related traits. I then allowed estrus females to choose between pairs of segregated males with either large and small antlers or large and small bodies. My predictive fetal aging model generated more accurate fetal ages under a range of sample timing and composition variation. Using various behavioral indications of choice, I demonstrated that females prefer males with larger antlers and lack a preference for body size or age.
Morina, Daniel L., "Reproductive Ecology of White-Tailed Deer: Fetal Development and Mate Choice" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 3795.