Wallowing behavior of Hainan Eld's deer Cervus eldi hainanus male during the rut and its function in reproduction
LIU Zhi-Tao, DING Jian-Hua, SONG Yan-Ling, ZENG Zhi-Gao, ZHANG Qiong
I n s t i t u t e o f Z o o l o g y , C h i n e s e A c a d e m y o f S c i e n c e , B e i j i n g 1 0 0 1 0 1 , C h i n a
Wallowing behavior and its function was studied on the 7 semi-free ranging Hainan Eld’s deer Cervus eldi haianus males in the rut season from February to May 2005 at the Wenchang reserve station of the Datian National Nature Reserve (110°55.86′E，19°49.83′N). We employed all-occurrence sampling and scanning sampling methods to record the process of wallowing, frequency of wallowing, and display behavior, as well as the mating frequency of each male. We tested three hypotheses: (1) as a visual and olfactory signal behavior, the older males will perform wallowing more frequently than younger ones; (2) older males will take a longer duration in each wallow bout than younger one; (3) there is a positive correlation between frequency of wallowing and dominance display behavior by each male. We recorded 79 wet wallow and 171 dry wallowing bouts and found a significant difference in wallowing frequency between individual stags. The oldest stags performed more wallowing bouts (Friedman nonparametric two-way ANOVA test，P＜0.01). A significant difference also existed in the frequency of wallowing between dominant and subdominant stags (Wilcoxon signed ranks test, P＜0.01). However, the durations of wallowing bouts performed by different males did not show any difference between older and younger males (P＞0.05). The wallowing frequency in a particular stag was positively related to dominance display behaviors, such as antler rubbing, winning a fight, roaring, monopolizing an estrous female and mating (Pearson correlation , r=0.804, P＜0.05, n=7). In addition, a strong correlation was found between wallowing bouts and successful copulations (Pearson Correlation, r=0.802, P＜0.05, n=7). These results support our first and third hypotheses but contradict the second one. It is reasonable to consider wallowing as one of the dominance display behaviors of the rutting Hainan Eld’s deer stags [Acta Zoologica Sinica 53(3): 417–424, 2007].