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Open Access Research

Pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus) courtship and mating behavior

Jéssica T Morales-Piñeyrúa and Rodolfo Ungerfeld*

Author Affiliations

Departamento de Fisiología, Facultad de Veterinaria, Montevideo, Uruguay

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2012, 54:60  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-54-60

Published: 13 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Pampas deer, Ozotoceros bezoarticus (Linnaeus 1758), is a South American grazing deer categorized as "near threatened". However, knowledge about pampas deer behavior including courtship and mating is scarce and incomplete. The aim of this study was to characterize the courtship and mating behavior of the pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus), an endangered species from South America.

Methods

We performed focal observations of 5 males allocated at the Estación de Cría de Fauna Autóctona Cerro Pan de Azúcar, Uruguay, 4 times a day from 5 to 20 minutes each time on a daily basis from February to May. During that period we recorded all courtship and mating behaviors, as well as quantified the frequency of the specific behaviors shown. As mating were rarely observed, we recorded that behavior when it was observed in the context of other studies performed in the same population during the following 2 years.

Results

During the observation period we recorded 928 courtships and 5 mating periods. In addition, we recorded 10 more matings performed during other studies, totaling 15. The duration of each mating calculated from the 15 recordings was 3.9 ± 0.4 s, and the total period of female receptivity (from first to last mating acceptance) was 8.2 ± 1.1 min. Main observed courtship behaviors in males were “chase” and “ostentation”, while the most observed close to mating were “chinning”, “raised head” and “anogenital sniffing”. The most observed behaviors in females during the mating period were “vulva exhibition” and “move away”.

Conclusion

This is the first detailed report in pampas deer mating behavior. Estrus lasted only 8 min accepting only 3 short copulations per estrus. However, female behavior during courtship can be characterized as highly proceptive.

Keywords:
Cervid; Reproductive behavior; Sexual ethogram; Proceptivity; Ruminant