I can produce more offspring as you can imagine: first records on exceptionally large litters in roe deer in central/southern Europe

  • Katarina Flajšman
  • Boštjan Pokorny
  • Roberta Chirichella
  • Elisa Bottero
  • Luca Mattioli
  • Marco Apollonio
Short Communication

Abstract

Most roe deer females produce twins and more rarely singletons and triplets. Some very rare reported cases of litters above three offspring refer to quadruplets which are, however, very much an exception in roe deer reproduction (only some tens of documented cases can be found in the scientific literature). In this paper, we present the first firm evidence that roe deer females are able to produce even five offspring. By examination of large sample set (n = 4690) of roe deer uteri and ovaries in two neighbouring countries in southern/central Europe (Italy and Slovenia), we found ten females that either carried or had potential to produce quadruplets, and in three does the (potential) litter size was even five. While one doe from Slovenia had five corpora lutea, two does from Tuscany, Italy, carried five foetuses. In both cases, all foetuses were normally and equally developed, indicating that none of them had predominant exposure to resorption/abortion. Six out of 13 females with exceptionally large potential litters (>3 offspring) had significantly higher body mass in comparison with mean body mass of all does harvested in the same hunting management district and in the same period, while five of them were significantly lighter. This indicates that some roe deer females can produce exceptionally large litters even when their phenotypic quality is not higher than the average in the population, and that such large litters are a stochastic episode rather than a reproductive performance of a very vital individual(s).

Keywords

Roe deer Litter size Exceptionally large litters Offspring Foetus Corpora lutea 

Supplementary material

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Fig. S1(PDF 266 kb)
10344_2017_1102_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (421 kb)
Fig. S2(PDF 421 kb)
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Table S1(PDF 174 kb)
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Table S2(PDF 173 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Slovenian Forestry InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Environmental Protection CollegeVelenjeSlovenia
  3. 3.Ecological Research and Industrial CooperationVelenjeSlovenia
  4. 4.Department of Science for Nature and Environmental ResourcesUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  5. 5.Provincial Administration of ArezzoArezzoItaly

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