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Thread: Muntjac

  1. #1

    Muntjac

    I never really understood why Munjac breed all year. I'm presuming that in ther natural asian habitat they do actually breed all year because there climate allows it. So does anyone think that they maybe evolving in to a sub species that may have a breeding season. The reason I raise this point is that tonight I have seen a pair doing there courtship chase around a patch of land I look after, I have only seen them doing this at this time of year.



    I await to be educated


    Charlie

  2. #2
    Muntjac are tropical deer. Because there is little seasonal variation inclimate and day length in species which originate nearer to the equator there is no evolutionary need to have an optimal breeding season, so they breed all year. This feature is also seen in axis/chital in India.

  3. #3
    It is an interesting question which i think you have mainly answered yourself. Muntjac look slightly prehistoric too and that is because they haven't altered much because they haven't needed to evolve any further. A bit like sharks and crocodiles, in that they have no need to change as they are already very good at what they do! However, now that they have moved continents they will almost certainly evolve to suit the colder climate. Here's another question then.......
    Apart from their first set of antlers, they do actually cast at the same time of year despite breeding all year around! For most deer species this is directly related to the rutting cycle. How come they follow suit with antlers but not breeding??????
    MS

  4. #4
    I doubt they'll have evolved yet as the evolutionary process takes thousands of years and since Mr and Mrs Munty have only lived here for perhaps 150 years maximum it's highly unlikely. I guess that given a few more centuries they probably will head towards a more 'normal for Europe' approach to breeding. Only my thoughts though.

    Tom
    I'm telling Captain - from the Wee'est of men.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by tjwaines View Post
    I doubt they'll have evolved yet as the evolutionary process takes thousands of years and since Mr and Mrs Munty have only lived here for perhaps 150 years maximum it's highly unlikely. I guess that given a few more centuries they probably will head towards a more 'normal for Europe' approach to breeding. Only my thoughts though.

    Tom
    Ahh, but they already have! It is estimated that approximately 50% of them perished in the prolonged winter of 1963. Those that survived would have been more hardened to the cold and those genes passed on to their offspring. We have just had 2 very cold winters and there appears to be very little evidence of cold mortality, so, although they look the same, maybe the evolutionary process is already underway?
    MS

  6. #6
    Ahhhh but didn't the prolonged winter of 1963 last weeks? My grandfather has a picture of our farm road with the snow literally a few feet from the top of the telegraph poles ! Whereas our recent cold snaps have only been a few days or a week at the most. My guess would be the prolonged winter of '63 wore them and their fat reserves down, thus killing them off, whereas the recent cold snaps have little effect being so short in duration? Is there a Darwin type on here that can help?
    I'm telling Captain - from the Wee'est of men.

  7. #7
    The length of cold spell will affect how many survive undoubtedly, but as you said, the ones with the largest fat reserves will probably be the ones that survived so we may well end up with a sub-species of muntjac which are fatter than their Asian cousins and with a seasonal breeding cycle. Probably not in our lifetimes though eh?!!!
    As for your last question, there are probably a few on here which may one day qualify for a 'Darwin award'!!
    MS

  8. #8
    Muntjac do breed all year round, but given that they are on a 7 month sexual cycle I'm not sure how they could come in to line with other species all that quickly, Say a receptive doe is mated in February, 7 Months later she drops her fawn in August and very soon after is pregnant again so she will be dropping her next fawn in march. Receptive very soon after and fawn number three is dropped in November and so on and so on.

    As for them casting their Antlers all at the same time - perhaps this is why they don't use their antlers to fight, they use their tusks, A clever strategy when you have a receptive doe to fight over and your antlers fell off when you hopped over that ditch 50 yds back.

  9. #9
    It's an interesting question. True evolutionary change which is persistant through generations does take several generations - the fastest I've read of was ten generations (for baterial resistance in butterflies) - and so the overall time taken is dependant on the lifespan of the species concerned. If munties could achieve the same rapid change (and their unusual chromosome variation might indicate an enhanced ability to do so), then it would still be about 120 -150 years.

    However, it poses the question as to what would be the advantage in doing so? If we accept the premise that seasonal mating is designed to ensure the survival of species through the survival of young (avoiding bad weather and lack of food), then munties seem to be doing fine as they are. More than that, it gives them an advantage (in light of our traditionally mild winters and the availability of food) over other species. Perhaps we might see other deer adopting a similar strategy.

    According to the fossil record, this is not the first time that Munties have lived in Europe and so if they do change to seasonal reproduction, it may actually be a devolution!

  10. #10
    When I read these threads about Muntjac and their "natural range" it suprises me how little we know about them. Muntjac are found throughout Nepal and can easily survive harsher winters than those in the UK. I suspect that in locations such as Nepal they will have a set breeding season.

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