Influence of weather and phenotypic characteristics on pregnancy rates of female roe deer in central Italy
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- Lombardini, M., Varuzza, P. & Meriggi, A. Popul Ecol (2017). doi:10.1007/s10144-017-0577-2
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In many ungulates, female fecundity is influenced by weather, population density and body condition. Based on a six-year survey of the reproductive tracts of adult female roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) harvested in the province of Pisa (Tuscany, central Italy), we evaluated the influence of weather, population density and individual characteristics on pregnancy rates. Eighty-five percent of females were pregnant, with a median litter size of two (range one—three). We found that pregnancy rate was positively correlated with summer rainfall and body mass of females, whereas early-winter conditions, spring rainfall, the age of females and density-dependent factors did not appear to influence pregnancy rate. These results reflect the particular seasonal variation in the abundance and quality of resources in Mediterranean habitats and show that heavier females (high-quality mothers) are more productive than lighter females.