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|Subject||Deer (Family: Cervidae) - Wiki|
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Deer (Family: Cervidae) - Wiki
A deer is a ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. A number of broadly similar animals from related families within the order Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates) are often also called deer. Male deer grow antlers each year and shed them, in contrast to permanently-horned antelope which are in the same order and have a superficial resemblance to them.
Depending on their species, male deer are called stags, harts, bucks or bulls, and females are called hinds, does or cows. Young deer are called fawns or calves. A group of deer is commonly called a herd. Hart, from Old English heorot ‘deer’, is a term for a stag, particularly a Red Deer stag past its fifth year. It is not commonly used, but Shakespeare makes several references, punning the sound alike "hart" and "heart" for example in Twelfth Night. "The White Hart" and "The Red Hart" are common English pub names, and the county Hertfordshire is named after them.
The history of the word deer is quite interesting in that it was originally quite broad in meaning and came to be specialized. In Middle English, der (O.E. d??or) meant a beast or animal of any kind. This general sense gave way to the modern sense by the end of the Middle English period, around 1500. The German word tier and the Dutch word dier, cognates of English deer, still have the general sense of "animal." The adjective of relation pertaining to deer is cervine.
Deer are widely distributed, and hunted, with indigenous representatives in all continents except Antarctica and Australia, though Africa has only one native species confined to the Atlas Mountains in the north-west of the continent, the Red Deer. (The Mouse Deer or Water Chevrotain of African forests is not a true deer; all other animals in Africa resembling deer are antelope).
Deer live in a variety of biomes ranging from tundra to the tropical rainforest. While often associated with forests, many deer are ecotone species that live in transitional areas between forests and thickets (for cover) and prairie and savanna (open space). The majority of large deer species inhabit temperate mixed deciduous forest, mountain mixed coniferous forest, tropical seasonal/dry forest, and savanna habitats around the world. Clearing open areas within forests to some extent may actually benefit deer populations by exposing the understory and allowing the types of grasses, weeds, and herbs to grow that deer like to eat. However, adequate forest or brush cover must still be provided for populations to grow and thrive.
Small species such as the brocket deer and pudus of Central and South America, and the muntjacs of Asia occupy dense forests and are less often seen in open spaces. There are also several species of deer that are highly specialized, and live almost exclusively in mountains, grasslands, swamps and "wet" savannas, or riparian corridors surrounded by deserts. Some deer have a circumpolar distribution in both North America and Eurasia. Examples include the reindeer (caribou) that live in Arctic tundra and taiga (boreal forests) and moose that inhabit taiga and adjacent areas.
The highest concentration of large deer species in temperate North America lies in the Canadian Rocky Mountain and Columbia Mountain Regions between Alberta and British Columbia where all five North American deer species (White-tailed Deer, Mule deer, Caribou, Elk, and Moose) can be found. This is a region that boasts mountain slopes with moist coniferous forests and alpine meadows, and lowlands with a mosaic of cropland and deciduous parklands within vicinity of lakes and rivers. The Caribou live at higher altitudes in the subalpine meadows and alpine tundra areas. The White-tailed Deer have recently expanded their range within the foothills of the Canadian Rockies due to conversion of land to cropland and the clearing of coniferous forests allowing more deciduous vegetation to grow.
The highest concentration of large deer species in temperate Asia occurs in the mixed deciduous forests, mountain coniferous forests, and taiga bordering North Korea, Manchuria (Northeastern China), and the Ussuri Region (Russia). These are among some of the richest deciduous and coniferous forests in the world where one can find Siberian Roe Deer, Sika Deer, Caribou, Elk, and Moose. Just south of this region in China, one can find the unusual Pere David's Deer. Deer such as the Sika Deer, Thorold's Deer, Central Asian Red Deer, and Elk have historically been farmed for their antlers by Han Chinese, Turkic peoples, Tungusic peoples, Mongolians, and Koreans. Like the Sami people of Finland and Scandinavia, the Tungusic peoples, Mongolians, and Turkic peoples of Southern Siberia, Northern Mongolia, and the Ussuri Region have also taken to raising semi-domesticated herds of caribou.
The highest concentration of large deer species in the tropics occurs in Southern Asia and Southeast Asia in the Countries of India, Nepal, and at one time, Thailand. Northern India's Indo-Gangetic Plain Region and Nepal's Terai Region consist of tropical seasonal moist deciduous, dry deciduous forests, and both dry and wet savannas that are home to Chital, Hog Deer, Barasingha, Indian Sambar, and Indian Muntjac. Just slightly north of the Indo-Gangetic Plain is the Vale of Kashmir, home to the rare Kashmir Stag, a subspecies of Central Asian Red Deer. The Chao Praya River Valley of Thailand was once primarily tropical seasonal moist deciduous forest and wet savanna that hosted populations of Hog Deer, Schomburgk's Deer (now extinct), Eld's Deer, Indian Sambar, and Indian Muntjac. Today, both the Barasingha and Eld's Deer are endangered or rare. The Hog Deer populations in Thailand are also rare. Chital and Barasingha live in large herds, and Indian sambar may also be found in large groups. How all these deer can co-exist in one area is due to the fact that they prefer different types of vegetation for food. These deer also share their habitat with various herbivores such as Asian elephants, various antelope species (in India), and wild oxen.
Central and South America host various smaller brocket deer species, and Southeastern Asia hosts various smaller muntjac species. Unlike the larger deer species mentioned above, these deer species are rather solitary and tend to hide in dense cover and have lower population densities.
Australia has six introduced species of deer that have established sustainable wild populations from Acclimatisation Society releases in the 19th Century. These are Fallow Deer, Red Deer, Sambar Deer, Hog Deer, Rusa deer, and Chital Deer. Red Deer introduced into New Zealand in 1851 from English and Scottish stock were domesticated in deer farms by the late 1960s and are common farm animals there now. Seven other species of deer were introduced into New Zealand but none are as widespread as Red Deer.
Note that the terms indicate the origin of the groups, not their modern distribution: the water deer, for example, is a New World species but is found only in China and Korea.
It is thought that the new world group evolved about 5 million years ago in the forests of North America and Siberia, the old world deer in Asia.
Subfamilies, genera and species
The family Cervidae is organized as follows:
Subfamily Muntiacinae (Muntjacs)
Indian muntjac or Common Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak)
Reeves's muntjac or Chinese Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)
Hairy-fronted muntjac or Black Muntjac (Muntiacus crinifrons)
Fea's muntjac (Muntiacus feae)
Bornean Yellow muntjac (Muntiacus atherodes)
Roosevelt's muntjac (Muntiacus rooseveltorum)
Gongshan muntjac (Muntiacus gongshanensis)
Giant muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis)
Truong Son muntjac (Muntiacus truongsonensis)
Leaf muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis)
Tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus)
Subfamily Cervinae (True Deer, Old World Deer):
European red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Central Asian Red Deer (Cervus wallichi)
Elk (Cervus canadensis) (Largest Old World deer, and second largest deer)
Thorold's deer, or white-lipped deer (Cervus albirostris)
Sika Deer (Cervus nippon)
Barasingha (Cervus duvaucelii)
Schomburgk's Deer (Cervus schomburgki) (extinct, 1938)
Eld's Deer or Thamin (Cervus eldii)
Indian Sambar (Cervus unicolor)
Sunda Sambar or Rusa Deer (Cervus timorensis)
Philippine Sambar (Cervus mariannus)
Philippine Spotted Deer or Visayan Spotted Deer (Cervus alfredi) (smallest Old World deer)
Chital or Axis deer (Axis axis)
Hog deer (Axis porcinus)
Calamian deer (Axis calamianensis)
Bawean deer (Axis kuhlii)
P??re David's Deer (Elaphurus davidianus)
Fallow deer (Dama dama)
Giant Deer (Megaloceros giganteus) †
Persian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica)
Subfamily Hydropotinae (Water Deer)
Chinese water deer (Hydroptes inermis)
Subfamily Odocoileinae/Capreolinae (New World Deer)
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Mule deer, or Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
Marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus)
Pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus)
Red Brocket (Mazama americana)
Merioa Brocket (Mazama bricenii)
Dwarf Brocket (Mazama chunyi)
Grey Brocket (Mazama gouazoubira)
Pygmy Brocket (Mazama nana)
Yucatan Brown Brocket (Mazama pandora)
Little Red Brocket (Mazama rufina)
Northern Pud?? (Pudu mephistophiles) (smallest deer in the world)
Southern Pud?? (Pudu pudu)
Taruca or North Andean Deer (Hippocamelus antisensis)
Chilean Huemul or South Andean Deer (Hippocamelus bisulcus)
European Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Siberian Roe Deer (Capreolus pygargus)
Caribou/Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)
Moose (Alces alces; called "Elk" in England and Scandinavia) (largest deer in the world)
In Origin of Species (1859) Charles Darwin wrote "Although I do not know of any thoroughly well-authenticated cases of perfectly fertile hybrid animals, I have some reason to believe that the hybrids from Cervulus vaginalis and Reevesii are perfectly fertile." These two varieties of muntjac are currently considered the same species.
A number of deer hybrids are bred to improve meat yield in farmed deer. American Elk (or Wapiti) and Red Deer from the Old World can produce fertile offspring in captivity, and were once considered one species. Hybrid offspring, however, must be able to escape and defend themselves against predators, and these hybrid offspring are unable to do so in the wild state. Recent DNA, animal behavior studies, and morphology and antler characteristics have shown there are not one but three species of Red Deer: European Red Deer, Central Asian Red Deer, and American Elk or Wapiti. (The European Elk is a different species and is known as moose in North America.) The hybrids are about 30% more efficient in producing antler by comparing velvet to body weight. Wapiti have been introduced into some European Red Deer herds to improve the Red Deer type, but not always with the intended improvement.
In New Zealand, where deer are introduced species, there are hybrid zones between Red Deer and North American Wapiti populations and also between Red Deer and Sika Deer populations. In New Zealand Red Deer have been artificially hybridized with Pere David Deer in order to create a farmed deer which gives birth in spring. The initial hybrids were created by artificial insemination and back-crossed to Red Deer. However, such hybrid offspring can only survive in captivity free of predators.
In Canada, the farming of European Red Deer and Red Deer hybrids is considered a threat to native Wapiti. In Britain, the introduced Sika Deer is considered a threat to native Red Deer. Initial Sika Deer/Red Deer hybrids occur when young Sika stags expand their range into established red deer areas and have no Sika hinds to mate with. They mate instead with young Red hinds and produce fertile hybrids. These hybrids mate with either Sika or Red Deer (depending which species is prevalent in the area), resulting in mongrelization. Many of the Sika Deer which escaped from British parks were probably already hybrids for this reason. These hybrids do not properly inherit survival strategies and can only survive in either a captive state or when there are no predators.
In captivity, Mule Deer have been mated to White-tail Deer. Both male Mule Deer/female White-tailed Deer and male White-tailed Deer/female Mule Deer matings have produced hybrids. Less than 50% of the hybrid fawns survived their first few months. Hybrids have been reported in the wild but are disadvantaged because they don't properly inherit survival strategies. Mule Deer move with bounding leaps (all 4 hooves hit the ground at once, also called "stotting") to escape predators. Stotting is so specialized that only 100% genetically pure Mule Deer seem able to do it. In captive hybrids, even a one-eighth White-tail/seven-eighths Mule Deer hybrid has an erratic escape behaviour and would be unlikely to survive to breeding age. Hybrids do survive on game ranches where both species are kept and where predators are controlled by man.
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