Thorold's deer

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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 (Cervus 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] and the first specimens were procured by G. W. Thorold, [3] after whom the species is named. As of early 2011, more than 100 Thorold's deer are kept in ISIS-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 known as "Thorold's deer" because the first specimens was procured by G. W. Thorold. [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 present 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, 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 A family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

The common name deer has the hoofed ruminant mammal forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the elk (wapiti), the fallow deer, and the chital; and the Capreolinae, including the reindeer (caribou), the roe deer, and the moose. Female reindeer, and male deer of all species except the Chinese water deer, 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).

Fallow deer A genus of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

The fallow deer is a ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. This common species is native to Europe, but has been introduced to Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, South Africa, Fernando Pó, São Tomé, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Réunion, Seychelles, Comoro Islands, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Cyprus, Israel, Cape Verde, Lebanon, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, the Falkland Islands, and Peru. Some taxonomers include the rarer Persian fallow deer as a subspecies, while others treat it as a different species.

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 various 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 in these areas, excluding Japan, where the species is overabundant.

Elds deer A species of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

Eld's deer, also known as the thamin or brow-antlered deer, is an endangered species of deer indigenous to South Asia. The species was first described and given its binomial name from specimens obtained in Manipur in India in 1839. The Manipur name for the deer was noted as Sungnaee and it was described in 1842 by John McClelland as being "nondescript" but it was given the name Cervus eldi by Guthrie. in honour of Lt. Percy Eld, a British officer who was attached to the residency at Manipur. The three subspecies of the Eld's deer are:

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. The red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor, Iran, parts of western Asia, and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being the only species of deer to inhabit Africa. Red deer have been introduced to other areas, including Australia, New Zealand, 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, South China, 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, insurgency, and industrial exploitation of habitat.

Chital Species of deer

The chital, also known as spotted deer, chital deer, and axis deer, is a species of deer that is native in the Indian subcontinent. The species was first described 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). The species 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 (3.3 ft) long.

Indian muntjac species of mammal

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 its lack of antlers and certain other anatomical anomalies—including a pair of prominent tusks, it is classified as a cervid. 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. Its prominent tusks, similar to those of musk deer, have led to both 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 by the Western world by Robert Swinhoe in 1870.

Barasingha species of mammal

The barasingha, also called swamp deer, is a deer species distributed in the Indian subcontinent. Populations in northern and central India are fragmented, and two isolated populations occur in southwestern Nepal. It is extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

<i>Cervus</i> A 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, but some of these should perhaps be returned to Cervus. Additionally, the species-level taxonomy is in a state of flux.

Bactrian deer subspecies of mammal

The Bactrian deer, also called the Bukhara deer, Bokhara deer or Bactrian wapiti, is a lowland subspecies of red deer that is native to Central Asia. It is similar in ecology to the Yarkand deer in occupying riparian corridors surrounded by deserts. Both subspecies are separated from one another by the Tian Shan Mountains and probably form a primordial subgroup of the red deer.

Manchurian wapiti subspecies of mammal

The Manchurian wapiti is a subspecies of Cervus canadensis, native to eastern Asia.

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

The elk or wapiti is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Northeast Asia. This animal should not be confused with the still larger moose of North America, alternatively known as "elk" in British English and related names in other European languages, in reference to populations in Eurasia. Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling (sparring), and bugling, a loud series of vocalizations that establishes dominance over other males and attracts females.

The Central Asian red deer is a primordial group of elk subspecies, which is found at the southern and eastern rim of the Tibetan plateau. Sometimes it is treated as a distinct species.

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.

Tibetan Plateau alpine shrublands and meadows Ecoregion (WWF)

The Tibetan Plateau alpine shrublands and meadows ecoregion covers the middle transition zone between the northern and southern regions of the Tibet 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 "Przewalskium albirostris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2008. 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  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 13 Leslie, D.M. (2010). "Przewalskium albirostre (Artiodactyla: Cervidae)". Mammalian Species. 42 (1): 7–18. doi: 10.1644/849.1 . Archived from the original on 2013-04-14.
  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.