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Tuesday, February 7 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. Impacts of Extreme Conditions on White-tailed Deer Antlers Using Harvested and Naturally Cast Antler Metrics

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AUTHORS: Brian C. Peterson, Department of Biology, University of Nebraska at Kearney; Nicolas J. Fryda, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; Casey W. Schoenebeck, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Antler size and morphology is the resultant combination of genetics, nutrition, population dynamics, individual health and environmental conditions and therefore deer antler metrics can be used to index the physical condition of deer populations. Leading into and throughout the antler development season of 2012, the Nebraska white-tailed deer (WTD) herd experienced a combination of extreme conditions which included drought, reduced growing season, disease and increased population density. The objectives of this study were to evaluate 1) if WTD antler metrics during a year with extreme conditions (2012) were different than in years with normal conditions (2009-2011 and 2013-2015); and 2) if antler metrics of the WTD cohort born during the extreme condition year were different than antler metrics of similar age groups from cohorts born during years with normal conditions. Antler metrics including main beam length (MBL), circumference (H1), and total points (TP) were measured on harvested WTD (2009-2015) and pedicle seal depths were measured on freshly naturally cast (2010-2016) WTD antlers. Harvested WTD antler metrics were variable between years with extreme and normal conditions, while bucks born during the extreme condition year were persistently smaller when compared to the same age groups during normal conditions. Pedicle seal depths of cast antlers were significantly smaller during the extreme condition year for both yearlings (2.3±0.3; P < 0.01) and ≥ 2.5 year olds (4.5±0.6mm; P=0.03) when compared to years with normal conditions (4.0±0.2 and 5.8±0.2mm; respectively). Pedicle seal depths of yearling WTD born during the extreme condition year (4.4±0.3mm) were larger when compared to yearlings born during normal conditions (3.6±0.1mm; P=0.06). Although differences in harvested WTD antler metrics during the extreme condition year varied, environmental stressors may have contributed to physiological differences in cast antlers as well as the persistence of smaller antler metrics for the cohort group born under those conditions.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Lancaster Ballroom

Attendees (1)