Thorold's deer

Last updated

Thorold's deer
CervusAlbirostris2.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Cervinae
Genus: Cervus
Species:
C. albirostris
Binomial name
Cervus albirostris
(Przewalski, 1883)
Synonyms

Przewalskium albirostris
Przewalskium albirostre

Thorold's deer (Przewalskium albirostris) [2] is a threatened species of deer found in grassland, shrubland, and forest at high altitudes in the eastern Tibetan Plateau. [3] It is also known as the white-lipped deer (Baichunlu, 白唇鹿, in Simplified Chinese, ཤྭ་བ་མཆུ་དཀར།་ in Standard Tibetan) for the white patches around its muzzle. [4]

Contents

This deer fills an ecological niche similar to the Tibetan red deer (shou, the subspecies wallichi of the red deer species group). It was first scientifically described by Nikolai Przhevalsky in 1883. [1] As of early 2011, more than 100 Thorold's deer are kept in Species360-registered zoos, [5] and in 1998 it was estimated that about 7000 remain in the wild. [1]

Etymology

Although the species was first described by Przhevalsky in 1883, it is also known as "Thorold's deer" because the specimens was procured by G. W. Thorold in 1892 and was described by W. T. Blanford as Cervus thoroldi in 1893. [3] The former genus, however, is named after Przhevalsky (Przewalskium) and the species name (albirostris) comes from the Latin albus (white) and rostrum (snout), referring to the white muzzle and lips. The name also came from the Chinese word baichunlu (白唇鹿, simplified Chinese), meaning "white-lipped". [6] For this reason, Thorold's deer is also commonly known as the white-lipped deer. [7]

Taxonomy

Thorold's deer has traditionally been included in the genus Cervus , and genetic evidence suggests this is more appropriate than its erstwhile placement in the monotypic genus Przewalskium. [2]

No subspecies are recognized. [1]

Description

Thorold's deer is one of the largest deer species, with a shoulder height around 115 to 140 cm (45 to 55 in). Males, which typically weigh from 180 to 230 kg (400 to 510 lb), are significantly larger than females, at 90 to 160 kg (200 to 350 lb) in weight. The hair is coarse and grey-brown over most of the body, fading to yellowish buff on the underparts, with a distinct reddish-brown patch on the rump, and a ridge of darker hair running down the spine. During winter, the coat is paler, and about twice as thick as during the summer, being thicker even that of a moose. The head is darker than the rest of the body, especially in males, and contrasts with pure white markings on the lips, around the nose, and the throat just below the chin. [3]

Male Thorold's deer Cervus albirostris male.jpg
Male Thorold's deer

Adult male Thorold's deer have antlers, measuring up to 110 cm (43 in) in beam length, and weighing up to 4 kg (8.8 lb). Compared with those of wapiti or red deer, the antlers are flattened with the first and second ("bez") tines noticeably far apart. The antlers can have up to seven tines, which all lie in the same plane. They are shed annually in March, reaching their full length by late summer. Other distinctive features include longer ears than most other deer, lined with white hair, and large metatarsal and preorbital glands. The hooves are broad and heavy, with unusually long dewclaws. The tail is short, at 12 to 13 cm (4.7 to 5.1 in) in length. [3]

Thorold's deer has a number of physical and physiological adaptations to its high altitude environment. The short legs and broad hooves make it an agile climber, able to use steep mountainous terrain to escape predators. Their nasal cavities are unusually large, allowing them to breathe in rarified high altitude air, while the thick hair protects against the cold. The red blood cells in this species are smaller than average for similarly sized mammals, and are very numerous, both features that increase its ability to take up limited amounts of oxygen. [3]

Distribution and habitat

Thorold's deer inhabit the Chinese provinces of Tibet, Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and far northwestern Yunnan. [3] [8] Today, they are found only in scattered populations across these regions, apparently being most numerous in eastern Sichuan. They prefer mosaics of grassland, shrubland, and forest, and are often seen above the treeline. [3] It is found at elevations of 3,500 to 5,100 metres (11,500 to 16,700 ft), among the highest of any deer species along with the south american taruca, and migrates seasonally from high summer pastures to lower terrain in winter. [9]

Behaviour

Thorold's deer is a crepuscular animal, normally living in herds of at least 10 individuals. Outside of the breeding season, males and females usually travel separately. Historically, herds containing hundreds of such deer were reported, but today, herds of over 100 individuals are rare. [9] Like wapiti, they are predominantly grazers; they feed on a wide range of available plants, especially grasses and sedges, but including some larger plants such as rhododendrons and willows. They have few natural predators, although wolves and snow leopards have been known to eat Thorold's deer on occasion. [3] [10]

The species has a range of vocalisations, including loud alarm calls, which are audible over 500 m (1,600 ft) away, growling sounds made by males in rut, and quieter grunts or mews made by females and young. Like reindeer, they can also make unusual, loud snapping sounds from their carpal bones, the function of which is unclear. [3] Thorold's deer rarely run, but they can gallop at up to 35 miles (56 km) per hour. [10]

Reproduction

Female Thorold's deer Cervus albirostris 2 - Syracuse Zoo.jpg
Female Thorold's deer

The rut occurs between September and November, when herds containing both males and females become more common. Such herds consist of several males, each maintaining a small harem of females that they protect from other males. Males compete with one another in a manner similar to other deer - wrestling with antlers, scent marking, visual displays, and grunting warning sounds. Mating consists of a single rapid thrust. [3]

The female gives birth to a single young after a gestation period of 220 to 250 days, typically in either May and June. Shortly before giving birth, the mother locates a secluded den, often in bushes or shrubby cover. The calves are born with white spots, and able to stand within about 40 minutes of birth. Initially, the mother protects them by moving them between a number of different locations, only visiting them twice a day to allow them to suckle. After about two weeks, they rejoin the herd. [3]

The calves' spots begin to fade after around six weeks, and they attain the full adult colour by the end of their first year. They become sexually mature during their second or third year, although males are rarely successful in the rut until they are at least five years old. Thorold's deer have been reported to live up to 21 years in captivity, but probably do not survive for more than 12 years in the wild. [3]

Conservation

Thorold's deer is found only in scattered populations across its former range, although the remoteness of its preferred habitat makes it difficult to study in detail. It faces threats from advancing human agriculture, including competition from domestic animals such as sheep, goats, and yaks. It is also hunted, for meat, antlers, and other body parts (such as the velvet) used in traditional Chinese medicine. The species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and is a Class I protected species in China.

The species has been farmed for its antlers in China and New Zealand, and is also found in numerous zoos worldwide. It appears able to adapt to being kept at low altitudes without much difficulty. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

Deer Family of mammals

Deer or true deer are hoofed ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the elk (wapiti), the red deer, and the fallow deer; and the Capreolinae, including the reindeer (caribou), white-tailed deer, the roe deer, and the moose. Male deer of all species as well as female reindeer, grow and shed new antlers each year. In this they differ from permanently horned antelope, which are part of a different family (Bovidae) within the same order of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla).

European fallow deer Species of hooved mammal

The European fallow deer also known as the common fallow deer or simply just fallow deer is a species of ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. It is historically native to Turkey and possibly the Italian Peninsula, Balkan Peninsula, and the island of Rhodes in Europe. Prehistorically native to and introduced into a larger portion of Europe, it has also been introduced to other regions in the world.

Sika deer Species of deer native to much of East Asia

The sika deer, also known as the spotted deer or the Japanese deer, is a species of deer native to much of East Asia and introduced to other parts of the world. Previously found from northern Vietnam in the south to the Russian Far East in the north, it is now uncommon except in Japan, where the species is overabundant.

Elds deer Asia ruminant mammal species

Eld's deer, also known as the thamin or brow-antlered deer, is an endangered species of deer endemic to South Asia.

Rut (mammalian reproduction) Mating season of ruminant mammals

The rut is the mating season of certain mammals, which includes ruminants such as deer, sheep, camels, goats, pronghorns, bison, giraffes and antelopes, and extends to others such as skunks and elephants. The rut is characterized in males by an increase in testosterone, exaggerated sexual dimorphisms and increased aggression and interest in females. The males of the species may mark themselves with mud, undergo physiological changes or perform characteristic displays in order to make themselves more visually appealing to the females. Males also use olfaction to entice females to mate using secretions from glands and soaking in their own urine.

Red deer Species of mammal

The red deer is one of the largest deer species. A male red deer is called a stag or hart, and a female is called a hind. The red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Anatolia, Iran, and parts of western Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Tunisia, being the only species of deer to inhabit Africa. Red deer have been introduced to other areas, including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Peru, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. In many parts of the world, the meat (venison) from red deer is used as a food source.

Sambar deer Species of deer

The sambar is a large deer native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia that is listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List since 2008. Populations have declined substantially due to severe hunting, local insurgency, and industrial exploitation of habitat.

Chital Species of deer

The chital, also known as spotted deer, chital deer, and axis deer, is a deer species native to the Indian subcontinent. It was first described and given a binomial name by German naturalist Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben in 1777. A moderate-sized deer, male chital reach nearly 90 cm (35 in) and females 70 cm (28 in) at the shoulder. While males weigh 30–75 kg (66–165 lb), the lighter females weigh 25–45 kg (55–99 lb). It is sexually dimorphic; males are larger than females, and antlers are present only on males. The upper parts are golden to rufous, completely covered in white spots. The abdomen, rump, throat, insides of legs, ears, and tail are all white. The antlers, three-pronged, are nearly 1 m long.

Indian muntjac Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak)

The Indian muntjac, also called the southern red muntjac and barking deer, is a deer species native to South and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Water deer Species of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

The water deer is a small deer superficially more similar to a musk deer than a true deer. Native to China and Korea, there are two subspecies: the Chinese water deer and the Korean water deer. Despite certain anatomical peculiarities, including a pair of prominent tusks, and its lack of antlers, it is classified as a cervid. Yet, its unique anatomical characteristics have caused it to be classified in its own genus (Hydropotes) as well as its own subfamily (Hydropotinae). However, studies of mitochondrial control region and cytochrome b DNA sequences placed it near Capreolus within an Old World section of the subfamily Capreolinae, and all later molecular analysis show that hydropotes is a sister taxon of Capreolus. Its prominent tusks, similar to those of musk deer, have led to both subspecies being colloquially named vampire deer in English-speaking areas to which they have been imported. The species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. It was first described to the Western world by Robert Swinhoe in 1870.

<i>Cervus</i> Genus of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

Cervus is a genus of deer that primarily are native to Eurasia, although one species occurs in northern Africa and another in North America. In addition to the species presently placed in this genus, it has included a whole range of other species now commonly placed in other genera. Additionally, the species-level taxonomy is in a state of flux.

The Sichuan deer, also known as MacNeill's deer, is a subspecies of the wapiti native to Western China.

Manchurian wapiti Subspecies of deer

The Manchurian wapiti is a subspecies of the wapiti native to East Asia.

Cervinae Subfamily of deer

The Cervinae or the Old World deer, are a subfamily of deer. Alternatively, they are known as the plesiometacarpal deer, due to their ankle structure being different from the telemetacarpal deer of the Capreolinae.

Elk Large antlered species of deer from North America and East Asia

The elk, also known as the wapiti, is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in its native range of North America, as well as Central and East Asia. The common name elk, used in North America, creates confusion because the larger Alces alces, which is called moose in North America, is also called elk in British English, and related names in other European languages. The name "wapiti" is sometimes used in North America for Cervus canadensis. It originates from the Shawnee and Cree word waapiti, meaning 'white rump'.

Przewalskis gazelle Species of mammal

Przewalski's gazelle is a member of the family Bovidae, and in the wild, is found only in China. Once widespread, its range has declined to six populations near Qinghai Lake. The gazelle was named after Nikolai Przhevalsky, a Russian explorer who collected a specimen and brought it back to St. Petersburg in 1875.

Taruca Species of deer

The taruca, also known as the Peruvian guemal, north Andean deer, north Andean huemul, northern huemul or northern guemal, is a mid sized deer species that inhabits the high regions of the Andes mountains in South America. The common name taruca means "deer" in both the Quechua and Aymara languages, though these are not interrelated. The taruca is closely related to the southern guemal, the only other member of the Hippocamelus genus.

Tibetan Plateau alpine shrublands and meadows Type of regional vegetation

The Tibetan Plateau alpine shrublands and meadows ecoregion covers the middle transition zone between the northern and southern regions of the Tibetan Plateau. The region supports both cold alpine steppe and meadows across a broad expanse of the plateau. Wild deer, antelope, and sheep roam the grasslands, but the habitat is increasingly being used to graze domestic livestock.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Harris, R.B. (2015). "Cervus albirostris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2015: e.T4256A61976756. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T4256A61976756.en . Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. 1 2 Pitraa, Fickela, Meijaard, Groves (2004). Evolution and phylogeny of old world deer. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 33: 880–895.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Leslie, D.M. (2010). "Przewalskium albirostre (Artiodactyla: Cervidae)". Mammalian Species. 42 (1): 7–18. doi: 10.1644/849.1 .
  4. Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. (2005). "Przewalskium albisrostris". Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN   978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC   62265494.
  5. ISIS (version 12 Jan. 2011). Przewalskium albirostris.
  6. "China's Biodiversity (in Simplified Chinese)". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  7. "Ultimate Ungulate: Thorold's Deer, White-lipped deer" . Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  8. Ohtaishi, N. & Gao, Y. (1990). "A review of the distribution of all species of deer (Tragulidae, Moschidae and Cervidae) in China". Mammal Review. 20 (3): 125–144. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.1990.tb00108.x.
  9. 1 2 Kaji, K.; et al. (1989). "Distribution and status of White-lipped Deer (Cervus albirostris) in the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau, China". Mammal Review. 19 (1): 35–44. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.1989.tb00400.x.
  10. 1 2 Rue, Leonard Lee (2003). Rost-Holtz, Amy (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Deer. Stillwater, MN, USA: Voyageur Press, Inc. pp. 57–58. ISBN   0-89658-590-5.