Rumen-reticulum and liver mass relationships in White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) differ between females and males
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Relationships between organ masses with high energetic demands influence metabolic demands in mammals. Previous studies have estimated allometric relationships between body mass and organ masses in white-tailed deer. To my knowledge, however, there has been no investigation into the relationship between rumen-reticulum organ mass and liver mass in any ungulate. Furthermore, energetically demanding life history events such as lactation in females and mating in males should affect organ workloads. Understanding the codependent relationships of these organs could be insightful to understanding the energy conservation strategy of white-tailed deer. I examined relationships between rumen-reticulum and liver mass in white-tailed deer in relation to the mating season, to see if relationships differed between females and males. I collected 151 white-tailed deer (68 males and 83 females) from Kerr Wildlife Management Area (Kerr WMA) breeding pens, Central Texas, and a private ranch in South Texas (SOTX). Deer from the Kerr WMA pens were obtained during the peak of the mating season, whereas deer from SOTX were collected two months prior to the mating season. There was a positive relationship between masses of the rumen-reticulum organ and liver at both study areas. However, this relationship differed between males and females. Males exhibited heavier livers in relation to rumen-reticulum organ masses than females at both study areas. These findings might be useful to understanding physiological changes during energetically demanding periods in male and female white-tailed deer.