Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 281–296 | Cite as

Passing the buck: resource defence, lek breeding and mate choice in fallow deer

  • T. H. Clutton-Brock
  • D. Green
  • M. Hiraiwa-Hasegawa
  • S. D. Albon


‘Lek’ breeding systems, where males defend small, clustered mating territories, are thought to occur where the distribution of females is heavily clumped but males are unable to defend resources used by females. In this paper, we describe a breeding system in fallow deer where males are able to defend resources used by females but the most successful bucks instead defend small territories on a traditional mating ground; where the lek is sited in an area not heavily used by females at other times of year and is visited primarily by females in or close to oestrus; and where mating success on the lek is related to territory position and to male phenotype but not to the resources available on different lek territories. Comparisons with other ungulates suggest that lek breeding species fall into two groups: those where leks are regularly visited by herds of females many of which are not in oestrus and those, like fallow deer, where leks are visited primarily by oestrous females. In the latter species, it is unlikely that females visit the lek for ecological reasons.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. H. Clutton-Brock
    • 1
  • D. Green
    • 1
  • M. Hiraiwa-Hasegawa
    • 1
  • S. D. Albon
    • 1
  1. 1.Large Animal Research Group, Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeGreat Britain

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