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Predation by red fox on European roe deer fawns in relation to age, sex, and birth date

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Mortality in radio-marked European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus (Linnaeus, 1758)) neonates was studied during 14 years in a mixed forest–agricultural landscape in Sweden. A total of 233 fawns were marked. Births were synchronized, with 79% occurring during 25 days and a peak between 25 May and 7 June encompassing 62% of the births. Overall mortality was 42%, but in three single years, it exceeded 85%. Predation by red fox (Vulpes vulpes Desmarest, 1820) accounted for 81% of total mortality. The effects of age, sex, and time of birth on the vulnerability to predation were analysed. Fawns born just after the birth peak had the lowest predation risk. Predation rate was highest for the fawns that had the very earliest or the very latest birth dates. Predation thereby seems to strengthen the birth synchrony in roe deer. Contrary to earlier published findings, there was no difference in susceptibility to predation between the sexes. Also differing from earlier findings was that predation rate was highest during the first week of life and declined thereafter almost linearly. The majority of the fawns (85%) were killed before 30 days of age and 98% before 40 days. Different types of landscapes may explain the discrepancies between our study and earlier findings.

Nous avons étudié au cours de 14 années la mortalité chez 233 chevreuils (Capreolus capreolus (Linnaeus, 1758)) nouveau-nés marqués dans un paysage mixte de forêts et de terres agricoles en Suède. Les naissances sont synchronisées et 79 % d'entre elles ont lieu durant une période de 25 jours; le maximum se produit entre le 25 mai et le 7 juin (62 % des naissances). La mortalité globale est de 42 %, mais dans trois des années, elle a dépassé 85 %. Quatre-vingt-un pour cent de cette mortalité est due à la prédation par les renards roux (Vulpes vulpes Desmarest, 1820). Nous avons examiné la relation entre l'âge, le sexe et la date de la naissance sur la vulnérabilité à la prédation. Les faons nés juste après le maximum des mises bas subissent le risque de prédation le plus faible. Les faons ayant les dates de naissance tout à fait les plus hâtives et les plus tardives ont le risque le plus élevé. La prédation a donc ainsi le rôle de synchroniser les naissances chez le chevreuil. Contrairement à ce que démontrent des études publiées antérieurement, nous n'avons pas observé de différence de susceptibilité à la prédation en fonction du sexe. De plus, contrairement aux études antérieures, nous constatons que la prédation est maximale durant la première semaine de vie et qu'elle décline ensuite de façon presque linéaire. La majorité (85 %) des faons sont tués avant l'âge de 30 jours et 98 % avant l'âge de 40 jours. Les différences entre nos résultats et ceux d'études antérieures s'expliquent sans doute par la présence de types différents de paysages.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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