Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The maternal effect: How mother deer protect their future kings

Date:
March 7, 2013
Source:
Brigham Young University
Summary:
Just like the classic tale of Bambi, females from the deer family are more likely to invest more in the survival and health of their male offspring if there is a good chance those sons will become a "Great Prince of the Forest."

A deer on BYU's campus.
Credit: Image courtesy of Brigham Young University

Do mothers invest more care in their sons if they believe their child is destined to be a king, president or a high-powered leader? The answer is definitively yes -- as long as those mothers and their sons happen to have hooves.

Related Articles


New research from BYU reports that, just like the classic tale of Bambi, females from the deer family are more likely to invest more in the survival and health of their male offspring if there is a good chance those sons will become a "Great Prince of the Forest."

"Our research demonstrates clearly that a mother's investment in her offspring was evident during adulthood, even though offspring live independently of their mothers from a very young age," said Brock McMillan, associate professor of wildlife ecology at BYU.

The comprehensive study of deer and elk from the Intermountain West found that the most dominant males at the time of death were those who were born into the most favorable maternal conditions 5 to 15 years before.

While favorable maternal conditions are largely tied to the health of the expectant mother, there are additional elements at play.

A mother's investment happens both in the womb and during the first few months of life. During those early stages of life, mothers take care to provide more excellent nourishment through lactation as well as better habitats for the baby.

"Male deer and elk live independently of their mothers for several years in highly variable environments," McMillan said. "They live through severe winters with deep snow and little to eat, dry summers with poor quality food and years of injuries and ailments associated with everyday life. Even with many years of exposure to the environment, the maternal effect was still evident."

The study, appearing in the current issue of scientific journal PLOS ONE, provides new information for how deer and elk populations propagate.

Whereas deforestation, human-encroachment into natural habitats, increased predators, and several other factors have been thought to play the most prominent roles in determining deer and elk population trends, this study implies that an equally important factor is the health and nurturing of the mothers years before.

"For those unconcerned about deer or elk, this research can be a reminder that similar research exists for humans," said student Eric Freeman, lead author on the study. "Conditions experienced in utero affect offspring throughout their life even in long-lived species."

With the study, Freeman joined the throngs of BYU students before him who completed peer-review research as undergraduates.

"In many ways, this research was the most important part of my undergraduate education," Freeman said. "I became a much better thinker and writer as a direct result of my work on this research with my advisors."

Freeman is currently a graduate student in the College of Life Sciences studying mule deer fawns. He plans to pursue a PhD with the goal of eventually teaching and conducting research at a university.

Wildlife ecology professor Randy Larsen is also a co-author on the study. McMillan and Larsen are professors in the department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham Young University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eric D. Freeman, Randy T. Larsen, Ken Clegg, Brock R. McMillan. Long-Lasting Effects of Maternal Condition in Free-Ranging Cervids. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (3): e58373 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058373

Cite This Page:

Brigham Young University. "The maternal effect: How mother deer protect their future kings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307092521.htm>.
Brigham Young University. (2013, March 7). The maternal effect: How mother deer protect their future kings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307092521.htm
Brigham Young University. "The maternal effect: How mother deer protect their future kings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307092521.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

AFP (Oct. 29, 2014) At the foot of the rugged Carpathian mountains near the Polish-Ukrainian border, ranchers and scientists are trying to protect the Carpathian pony, known as the Hucul in Polish. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny, Lab-Grown Stomachs Could Treat Stomach Diseases

Tiny, Lab-Grown Stomachs Could Treat Stomach Diseases

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The researchers grew tiny stomachs using stem cells, saying the research could lead to better treatment for ulcers and even stomach cancer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins