Apollonio, Marco and Festa-Bianchet, Marco and Mari, Franco (1989) Correlates of copulatory success in a fallow deer lek. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Vol. 25 (2), p. 89-97. eISSN 1432-0762. Article.
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We studied the behavior and copulatory success of fallow deer (Cervus dama) males at a lek. We recorded 471 copulations in 3 years. Most males did not copulate. The top three males accounted for between 60 and 90% of copulations each year. Lek attendance time was the major determinant of male copulatory success, but territory location also affected the number of copulations achieved. Copulatory success was correlated with the number of females in a male's territory and possibly with dominance status, but not with fighting success or fighting rate. All males that defended lek territories were 5 years of age or older. Copulatory success may improve with age. Body condition appears to be an important determinant of male copulatory success, because only males in superior condition could defend a lek territory for up to 2 weeks. Males do not feed while defending lek territories. Foraging ability during the year probably determines condition at the onset of the rut. Females appear to choose mates at least partially on the basis of location, preferring males located near traditional routes. Females may ultimately select mates in the best body condition.
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