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Physical and chemical characteristics of antlers and antler breakage in white-tailed deer

Physical and chemical characteristics of antlers and antler breakage in white-tailed deer

Southwestern Naturalist 50(3): 356-362

ISSN/ISBN: 0038-4909

DOI: 10.1894/0038-4909(2005)050[0356:paccoa];2

Previous descriptions of growth, development, and composition of deer antlers have not included factors that affect antler breakage. We related morphology and mineral concentration to occurrence of broken antler tines in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) using 126 cast antlers collected during 1989 to 1995. Antlers were divided into 2 categories: broken and intact. Density, break strength, spongy bone pcrcentage, and mineral composition were measured for 1-cm cross-sections removed from the base of the main beam, from between the G2 and G3 tines, and from the base of the G3 tine. We compared these variables between broken and intact antlers and estimated correlations between tine density, break strength, spongy bone ratio, and mineral composition. Density; percentage of spongy bone, break strength, and mineral concentration did not differ significantly between broken and intact antlers. Main beam break strength differed significantly among years. Mineral composition differed significantly among antler locations and year. Rainfall during the antler growth period was correlated with concentrations of and aluminum and manganese. Although there were significant correlations between morphology mineral and concentrations, morphology and mineral composition did not explain the presence of broken antlers.

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Accession: 012417327

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