Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service
  
Treesearch

Research & Development Treesearch

 
Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Northern
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help
 

Science.gov - We Participate


USA.gov  Government Made Easy


Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.
20090-6090

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (275 KB)

Title: Reproduction in north American elk Cervus elaphus: paternity of calves sired by males of mixed-age classes

Author: Kie, John G.; Johnson, Bruce K.; Noyes, James H.; Williams, Christen L.; Dick, Brian L.; Rhodes, Olin E.; Stussy, Rosemary J.; Bowyer, R. Terry.;

Date: 2013

Source: Wildlife Biology

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Our objective was to examine effects of groups of mixed numbers and ages of male North American elk Cervus elaphus on the reproductive performance of females. We conducted research at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range in northeastern Oregon, USA, during 1993-2000. Each spring in late March, we released 40 female elk, eight yearling (9-month old) male elk and 2-8 branch-antlered elk (i.e. =>2 years of age during rut the following autumn) into a 622-ha fenced pasture. Elk were gathered during autumn and early winter, and were brought to winter feeding grounds where blood samples were drawn to determine pregnancy status. The following spring, females were released into an 80-ha pasture prior to parturition. We searched for and captured newborn calves and obtained ear-punch samples for genetic analysis. We used 18 microsatellite loci to establish paternity of each calf. We varied the ratio of mature males (i.e. =>3 years old) to female ratio from 0.03 to 0.21. As expected, mature males (older and heavier) were more successful in siring calves than were younger males. Within age classes, however, body mass in spring did not accurately predict mating success in autumn. Reproductive rates were not affected by season of grazing by cattle, yearling male to female ratio or mature male to female ratio. Sire age had no effect on mean dates of calf births or on calf weights. Neither sire age nor season of grazing by cattle had significant effects on calf weights; however, mean date of birth was significantly earlier when cattle grazing occurred during the previous autumn than when cattle grazed during the preceding spring. Furthermore, the number of calves sired by yearling males was greater when cattle grazing occurred during autumn, than when grazing occurred during spring. In the years with disruptive cattle grazing during rut, females mated not only with yearling males, in general, but often with those who were lighter in body mass during the previous spring than others in the same cohort. The extent to which those yearling males are untested in combat with older, dominant herd bulls may have genetic consequences leading to differences in fitness and subsequent reductions in calf survival.

Keywords: cattle grazing, Cervus elaphus, conception date, North American elk, paternity, reproduction

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

XML: View XML

Citation:


Kie, John G.; Johnson, Bruce K.; Noyes, James H.; Williams, Christen L.; Dick, Brian L.; Rhodes, Olin E.; Stussy, Rosemary J.; Bowyer, R. Terry. 2013. Reproduction in north American elk Cervus elaphus: paternity of calves sired by males of mixed-age classes. Wildlife Biology. 19(3): 302-310.

 


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.