Interspecies Interactions between Axis (Axis axis) and Fallow (Dama dama) Deer at Supplemental Food Patches




McGhee, Jay D.

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In Texas and elsewhere, the introduction of exotic deer species and the creation of sympatric multispecies assemblages has increased. However, little information on interspecific behavioral interactions and contest competition exists. I observed the number of displacements between axis deer (Axis axis) and fallow deer (Dama dama) categorized by age (adult vs. yearling male), sex, and species at patches of supplemental feed. Behaviors used in displacements in order of estimated energy cost included direct approach (low cost), ritualized display, (mid-cost), and bodily contact (high cost). Characteristics of the populations of both species of inter- and intraspecific herds at food patches were recorded in an attempt to correlate them with displacement patterns. Axis males performed fewer interspecific displacements than fallow males in autumn (G = 19.3, d.f. = 3,p = 0.0002) and winter (G = 25.03, d.f. = 3,p < 0.0001), while fallow males performed fewer interspecific displacements than axis males in summer (G = 24.83, d.f.= 3,p < 0.0001). Fallow females engaged in fewer displacements than axis females in the spring (x2 = 7.702, d.f. = l,p - 0.0055). The distribution of behaviors used to perform displacements did not differ between conspecifics and heterospecifics for either species. Heterospecific displacements between axis and fallow males were correlated primarily with the proportion of fallow males in hard antler at feed lines. Fallow female displacements were correlated primarily with season. I conclude that interspecific dominance interactions between these species are resolved by differences in antler morphology and aggressiveness.



interspecies, Axis axis, fallow deer, competition, supplemental food, food patches, Dama dama


McGhee, J. D. (2001). Interspecies interactions between axis (Axis axis) and fallow (Dama dama) deer at supplemental food patches (Unpublished thesis). Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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