Weights, hematology, and serum profIles of white-tailed does in the central Superior National Forest of northeastern Minnesota were examined year-around to determine seasonal patterns of nutritional condition and metabolism. Deer were initially captured by Clover trap or rocket net. Between 15 February 1989 and 23 January 1990, we recaptured 12 adult (> 1.5 years) female deer 1-9 times each (a total of 59 recaptures) using a radio-controlled capture collar. Monthly weights of deer exhibited a cyclic seasonal pattern. Mean weight declined 22 % from February to an annual minimum during May, then steadily increased 45 % to a maximum in October. Seasonal patterns were most evident for hemoglobin concentration, red blood cells, packed cell volume, serum total protein, urea nitrogen, creatinine, the urea N to creatinine ratio, triiodothyronine, cortisol, and potassium. Wide seasonal variations of these characteristics were indicative of shifts in the deer's metabolic physiology. Although seasonal metabolic shifts are partially attributable to an endogenous rhythm, the intensity of, their expression was most likely affected by nutritional changes and concomitant alterations of body condition. Annual changes in seasonal trends of blood characteristics may be useful in investigating nutritional effects of specific environmental and demographic factors. We compare our findings with those reported for deer on ranges farther south.
Additional publication details
Seasonal patterns of weight, hematology, and serum characteristics of free-ranging female white-tailed deer in Minnesota