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Bovid Horns: An Important Site for Heat Loss during Winter?

Karine Picard, Donald W. Thomas, Marco Festa-Bianchet and Clément Lanthier
Journal of Mammalogy
Vol. 75, No. 3 (Aug., 1994), pp. 710-713
DOI: 10.2307/1382520
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1382520
Page Count: 4
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Bovid Horns: An Important Site for Heat Loss during Winter?
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Abstract

Bovid horns play a prominent role in social and sexual interactions. In cold climates, however, heat loss through the horn surface may represent a major energy cost. We measured surface temperatures of horns ( T h) for two Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia; one male and one female) at the Granby Zoo, Québec, using temperature-sensitive radiotransmitters. Over ambient temperatures ( T a) of 5 to -19°C, T h never dropped below 3°C. At T a≈ -10 C, the difference between T hand T a was 17°C for the male and 21°C for the female. Using empirical models to predict heat loss through horns and resting metabolic rates, we estimate that, at T aof≈ -10 C, heat loss through the horn surface is 20% of resting metabolic rate for females and 29% for males which have larger horns than females. We argue that the metabolic costs of possessing large horns in cold climates may impose constraints on morphology and sexual selection.

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