Pelliccioni, E.R., Scremin, M. & Toso, S. 2004: Early body development of roe deer Capreolus capreolus in a sub-Mediterranean ecosystem. - Wildl. Biol. 10: 107-113.
Patterns of roe deer Capreolus capreolus body development are particularly interesting in view of the wide distribution range and different habitat conditions faced by the species throughout Europe. In order to investigate patterns of roe deer fawn body development in a sub-Mediterranean ecosystem, we caught 78 fawns during the four fawning seasons of 1997-2000. We investigated the effect of gender and date and year of birth on body mass of fawns in their first month of life. In agreement with earlier studies, there was a period of linear growth during which we found no differences in body mass between the sexes. Body mass varied significantly between years. The mean birth weight of 1,500 g did not show overall yearly variations, but fawns were heavier in 2000 than in 1998. Daily weight gain was more variable between years with fawns born in 2000 growing faster than fawns born in 1999 and 1997. Lastly, when fawns were split into two categories according to birth weight, light-born fawns had a significantly faster body development than heavy-born fawns. Therefore, we suggest that roe deer fawns may compensate for a low weight at birth. Such a compensatory process allows light-born fawns to catch up with heavy-born fawns by the end of their first month of life.
Key words: birth weight, body development, Capreolus capreolus, Italy, roe deer
Elisabetta Raganella Pelliccioni, Mara Scremin & Silvano Toso, Istituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica 'Alessandro Ghigi', Via Ca' Fornacetta 9, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy - e-mail: email@example.com
Corresponding author: Elisabetta Raganella Pelliccioni
Received 22 April 2002, Accepted 15 May 2003
Associate Editor: Jean-Michel Gaillard