Factors affecting morphometrics and epiphyseal closure of white-tailed deer
Flinn, Emily Brooke
CommitteeStrickland, K. Bronson
Factors affecting morphometrics and epiphyseal closure are important in understanding regional variation and growth of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). I compared body and antler growth from birth to 3 years of age in captive, first-generation, male white-tailed deer from three regions with varying soil quality and deer morphometrics. I also determined gender and age effects on epiphyseal closure timing in captive white-tailed deer. I found regional morphological variation present in first-generation male deer, which may be caused by regional genetic variation or lingering maternal effects. Determining cause of regional morphological variation will require data collection through a second-generation of males raised on the controlled diet. Epiphyseal closure timing was associated positively with age. Two of the four epiphyseal plates examined were affected by gender, with females closing prior to males. Morphometric and epiphyseal data confirm that age and gender affect epiphyseal closure timing in white-tailed deer.