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Musk secretion of endangered Alpine musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster): muscone content and the relationships to age, health, mating history and enclosure condition


In November 2019, muscone content was measured from musk secreted by 114 male captive Alpine musk deer in Xinglongshan Alpine Musk Deer Farm located in Xinglongshan National Nature Reserve, western China. The relationships between muscone content and individual age, health, mating history and enclosure condition were analyzed. The results showed that the muscone content ranged from 0.35% to 5.55% (dry weight percentage of muscone in musk), which was correlated with age (r = −0.132). The muscone content of adults (1.5–8.5 yrs.;1.17 ± 0.09%) was significantly higher than in older individuals (9.5–11.5 yrs.; 0.85 ± 0.06%; p < 0.05). A significant correlation was found between health and muscone content (r = 0.266; p < 0.01), with healthy males (1.16 ± 0.09%) having significantly higher muscone content than weaker ones (0.92 ± 0.07%, p < 0.05). The muscone content of males mated in the former year (1.23 ± 0.14%) was higher than that of unmated males (1.04 ± 0.08%; p > 0.05). The males in the enclosure with lower (1.04 ± 0.12%), medium (1.14 ± 0.16%) and higher density conditions (1.17 ± 0.13%) did not significantly differ in muscone levels. Males that lived with females had slightly higher muscone content (1.18 ± 0.12%) than those who did not (1.06 ± 0.10%; p > 0.05). In general, muscone content of musk decreased with age and poor health, but mating history or captive environment had insignificant effect. In musk deer farming, the farms could enhance the health of musk deer and concentrate on younger individuals in order to improve the musk quality and sustainable production of musk resources.

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Data availability

The information of all data used in the study is available in School of Environment and Natural Resources, Renmin University of China.


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This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31672300). We are especially grateful to Dr. Genevieve Perkins who helped to improve the language.

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This research was supported by The National Natural Science Foundation of China (31672300).

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Correspondence to Xiuxiang Meng.

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This study was carried out in accordance with the local ethical committee, received approval from the institutional review board of Renmin University of China, and complied with the current Chinese law.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Yuan, N., Qin, Y., Wang, J. et al. Musk secretion of endangered Alpine musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster): muscone content and the relationships to age, health, mating history and enclosure condition. Biologia (2021).

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  • Alpine musk deer
  • Moschus chrysogaster
  • Musk secretion
  • Muscone
  • Health condition
  • Social environment