Behavior pattern as the indicator of reproductive success of Alpine musk deer

Document Type: Full paper (Original article)

Authors

Department of Biology, College of Life and Environment Sciences, Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081, China

Abstract

To establish the behavioral indicator of reproductive success of female captive Alpine musk deer
(Moschus sifanicus), the focal sampling was used to record the individual behaviors at Xinglongshan Musk
Deer Farm (XMDF), Gansu province, China. Conducted between June 2008 and January 2009, 31 adult
females were observed, of which 26 had successfully bred in the previous year, and five of which were
barren. The frequencies of 12 behaviors were recorded and compared to explore variation in reproductive
success and general behavior patterns. The results showed that there were differences in behavioral
frequencies between females barren and fawned in the previous year. Compared to successful individuals,
barren females expressed environment sniffing more frequently during non-mating season, but less
frequently during mating season (P<0.05). Females which had previously fawned expressed ano-genital
sniffing less frequently than barren females in non-mating season (P<0.05). Furthermore, both female groups elicited the male specific tail-pasting behavior, although the demonstration levels were not different
significantly between both. The above behavioral differences have implications for musk deer farming
practices, whereby females should be grouped and separated by their previous reproduction history, to
maximize future reproductive success.

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