We documented mean and maximum body mass, mass accretion patterns and ander development patterns of Rocky Mountain elk in Michigan. Mean body mass of bulls averaged 9-11% heavier, and maximum body mass 23-27% heavier, in Michigan than in other Rocky Mountain elk populations. Mean live body mass of cows averaged 11% heavier in Michigan, but mean eviscerated body mass did not differ. Maximum body mass of cows was 10-24% heavier in Michigan. Body mass peaked at age 7.5 for bulls and 8.5 for cows, similar to other Rocky Mountain elk populations despite the greater body mass achieved in Michigan. Sexual dimorphism in bull and cow body mass increased until peak body mass was attained, whereupon bulls were ???38% heavier than cows. Antler development of bull elk peaked at age 10.5, comparable to other Rocky Mountain elk populations. Relations between antler development and body mass within age classes were highly variable, but generally weak. Greater body mass seen in Michigan, and the peaking of antler development well after body mass in bulls, suggested a phenotypic response to nutritional conditions that allow Rocky Mountain elk in Michigan to maximize the species growth potential.
Additional publication details
Body mass and antler development patterns of Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) in Michigan