Knowledge of growth in body dimension and mass is important to understanding fundamental elements of wildlife biology and ecology. We evaluated five classical growth models (Gompertz, Logistic, Monomolecular, Richards, and von Bertalanffy) in describing body length and mass growth curves as a function of age to determine which best fit wild Puma concolor coryi (Florida Panther). When used for inferences on body length and mass growth curves of both genders, the von Bertalanffy function proved to be the best-fitting theoretical equation to our data set because it used the fewest parameters derived directly from metabolic laws, had lowest residual standard deviation of data points about fitted model, with lower Akaike Information Criterion value, and largest Akaike weight. The von Bertalanffy model estimated that male asymptotic body length was 9.4% longer and mass was 33.2% heavier than for females. Both genders grew in body mass for a longer duration than length. Male-biased sexual size dimorphism develops in part because males grew faster and for a more prolonged period. Our results should prove useful in future studies of Panther energetics, reproduction, and in developing conservation and management policies for this species.
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Vol. 12 • No. 1