Good-genes hypotheses predict that development of secondary sexual characters can be an honest advertisement of heritable male quality. We explored this hypothesis using a cervid model (adult, male white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus) to determine whether antler development could provide an honest signal of a male's genetic quality and condition to adversaries. We compared antler, morphometric, hormonal, and parasitic data collected from hunter-harvested deer to characteristics of the Mhc-DRB (Odvi), the most widely studied gene of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in Artiodactyla. We detected associations between genetic characteristics at Odvi-DRB and antler development and body mass, suggesting that antler development and body mass may be associated with pathogen resistance in deer and thus may be an honest signal of genetic quality. We also detected associations between Odvi-DRB characteristics and serum testosterone during the breeding season, suggesting that certain MHC characteristics may help deer cope with stresses related to breeding activity. In addition, we observed a negative relationship between degree of antler development and overall abundance of abomasal helminths. Our observations provide support for the hypothesis that antler development in white-tailed deer is an honest signal of quality.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 55 • No. 3