Age determination in roe deer - a new approach to tooth wear evaluated on known age individuals
A novel, simple, and objective method is presented for ageing roe deerCapreolus capreolus (Linnaeus, 1758) evaluated on 471 lower jaws from roe deer of known age (351 with permanent premolars). It is based on tooth eruption patterns and presence/absence of wear characters in jaws from roe deer integrated in a scoring system. Permanent cheek teeth emerge in May–July in the year af ter birth, which enables precise age determination of individuals with deciduous premolars. For individuals with permanent cheek teeth, the method provides the correct age for all individ uals younger than 13 months and > 80% of all individuals between 13 and 24 months old. For older in dividuals the accuracy decreases, but decent accuracy is achieved to the age of 48 months. Males have higher wear rates than females corroborating recent documentation of sex-specific life history tactics in ungulates. The data originate from two separated Danish roe deer populations exposed to contrasting habitats, but no difference in wear rate is found between populations. Thus, previous concern about the validity of age determination methods based on tooth wear may have been overstated. The findings demonstrate that objective measures of tooth wear can provide the basis for age determination in ungulate species that are otherwise difficult to age
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