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Irruptive Potential in Roe Deer: Density-Dependent Effects on Body Mass and Fertility

Reidar Andersen and John D. C. Linnell
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 64, No. 3 (Jul., 2000), pp. 698-706
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802739
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802739
Page Count: 9
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Irruptive Potential in Roe Deer: Density-Dependent Effects on Body Mass and Fertility
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Abstract

We examined the irruptive potential of a roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) population on a 10-km2 island 2 km off the coast of central Norway (63°40′ N). As roe deer density increased from 10 to 34.5 animals/km2 from spring 1991 to spring 1994, reproductive status was determined in 33 2-year old and 66 adult, radiocollared does. Body mass was known for 19 adults and 12 2-year old females. The studied population had a high overall rate of increase, r = 0.409, although this decreased with increasing population density. Density only explained 2.8% and 6.7% of the variation in maternal body mass of 2-year olds and adults, respectively, and an examination of individual trajectories showed that density did not affect litter size either. Body mass did not affect reproductive status in the 2 age groups; however, body mass affected the number of fawns produced. Females with above average body mass had 40% higher productivity than females with below average body mass. The ability of female roe deer to maintain high body condition and high reproductive rates at high density means that monitoring of vital rates alone will not allow managers to detect these potential rapid increases in density until they have irrupted. Therefore, direct monitoring of population size or an index of population abundance is needed to allow rapid changes in harvest level that can prevent irruptions.

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