Japanese serows are similar in appearance to goats. Their horns average 12 to 16 cm in length. Their body length is approximately 130 cm, and their shoulder height is about 65 cm. Adult serows weigh 30-45 kg, and they are not strongly sexually dimorphic. Their pelage is dark brown, but in the northern part of their range the color is lighter. They possess large infraorbital glands that are used in scent marking their territories. This gland can be seen easily. (Fukuda, 1995; Kubo, et al., 2001; Ochiai and Susaki, 2002)
Japanese serows usually form monogamous pairs. However, some males mate with two and occasionally three females in the same breeding season. Two field studies at different locations found a similar proportion of polygynous males (20-30%), suggesting that the proportion of animals that mate polygynously is perhaps fixed in the species. Both sexes form territories that they defend against other individuals of the same sex. Usually male territories almost completely overlap those of a female, but sometimes male territories include territories of more than one female. In these cases, those males are polygynous. Mated pairs remain together every year, perhaps because they hold consistent territories. When a mate is displaced from their territory, their mate remains in the same territory and mates with the individual that takes over the territory of the displaced animal.
Japanese serows rut in September to November. The young are born in May and June, and they remain with their mother for about a year. Young reach sexual maturity at 2.5 to 3 years of age. Although serows become independent as yearlings, they remain in their natal territory. They disperse between 2 to 4 years of age, but females may inherit their mothers' territories. (Kishimoto and Kawamichi, 1996; Kishimoto, 1989; Ochiai and Susaki, 2002)
Most of the parental investment is provided by the mother. Young serows follow their mothers for a year, and remain in the mother’s territory for 2 to 4 years. Lactation continues until November. Males provide no parental care to the young, although they permit young within their territories. (Kishimoto and Kawamichi, 1996; Kishimoto, 1989; Ochiai and Susaki, 2002)
The maximum longevity is 20 to 21 years for males and 21 to 22 years for females. Life expectancies at birth are 5.3 to 5.5 years for males and 4.8 and 5.1 years for females. One study found that serows live in same territory for 11.7 to 12.4 years. Because serows disperse from their natal territories at 2 to 4 years of age to establish their own territories, they live most of their lives in the territory they established. Also, it is likely that successful establishment of a territory increases an individual's chances of survival greatly, those without territories have greater risk of mortality. (Ochiai and Susaki, 2002; Tokida and Miura, 1988)
Japanese serows are known to stand on high look outs for extended periods. This behavior could be for the purpose of detecting predators, but may also be to detect territorial rivals. (Fukuda, 1995)
Japanese serows are considered diurnal, but a study using radio collared individual found that they are almost as active during night. (Kishimoto, 1989)
Japanese serows are solitary animals and form intrasexual territories. They mark their territories with the scent gland located in front of the eyes. Encounter between adults serows of same sex results in aggression, where the intruding serows are chased out of the territories. Deaths from combat injury occur at least among males in some cases. Territory size is affected by the food availability. (Kubo, et al., 2001; Ochiai and Susaki, 2002; Tokida and Miura, 1988)
Japanese serows use scent marking to hold territories. Because they are solitary animals and have little occasion to encounter other individuals of the same species, they use scent marking as their primary method of communication. Females use sound to call their young. (Kishimoto, 1989; Fukuda, 1995; Kishimoto, 1989; Kubo, et al., 2001)
Japanese serows are browsers that feed primarily on the buds and leaves of deciduous broad-leaved trees. They also feed on leaves of evergreen coniferous trees and fallen acorns. They sometimes eat flowers and fruits. (Fukuda, 1995; Kubo, et al., 2001; Ochiai, 1999; Takatsuki, et al., 1988)
Japanese serows have no or very few predators other than humans. A potential predator is Ursus thibetanus, Asiatic black bears. However, Asiatic black bears are not highly predatory. Historically, wolves probably preyed on serows, but wolves were exterminated from the serow's range by the early 1900s. More significantly, humans hunted them for meat and hide in the past. They are currently protected as a Japanese natural heritage and hunting is prohibited. Recently, dog predation was found to be a leading source of mortality in some areas. (Kubo, et al., 2001; Ochiai and Susaki, 2002; Tokida and Miura, 1988)
Because Japanese serows are territorial and their density in any particular area is limited, their impact on vegetation is relatively low. However, some species of plants are affected by their browsing and consequently they have some influence over the vegetation. (Ochiai, 1999)
Traditionally Japanese serows were an important source of meat and hide for people. Currently they are recognized as unique species endemic to Japan and classified as a natural heritage. (Kubo, et al., 2001)
Because they browse on trees, Japanese serows sometimes become pests to the forestry industry as they damage planted trees. They are sometimes killed as a management practice to control damage to forestry plantations. (Kubo, et al., 2001)
Japanese serows were hunted to near extinction by people in the past. They are currently protected as a natural heritage and hunting has been prohibited. They are listed as Lower Risk in IUCN. (Kubo, et al., 2001; Ochiai and Susaki, 2002)
Japanese serows are currently recognized as Capricornis crispus, they were previously recognized under the name Naemorhedus crispus. (Fukuda, 1995; Kishimoto and Kawamichi, 1996; Kubo, et al., 2001; Ochiai and Susaki, 2002; Ochiai, 1999)
Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Kensuke Mori (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
having more than one female as a mate at one time
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
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Miura, S., N. Maruyama. 1986. Winter weight loss in Japanese serow. Journal of Wildlife Management, 50(2): 336-338.
Ochiai, K. 1999. Diet of the Japanese serow (Mammal study, 24: 91-102.) on the Shimokita Peninsula, northern Japan, in reference to variations with a 16-year interval.
Ochiai, K., S. Nakama, S. Hanawa, T. Amagasa. 1993. Population dynamics of Japanese serow in relation to social organization and habitat conditions. I. Stability of Japanese serow density in stable habitat conditions. Ecological Research, 8: 11-18.
Ochiai, K., S. Nakama, S. Hanawa, T. Amagasa. 1993. Population dynamics of Japanese serow in relation to social organization and habitat conditions. II. Effects of clear-cutting and planted tree growth on Japanese serow populations. Ecological Research, 8: 19-25.
Ochiai, K., K. Susaki. 2002. Effects of territoriality on population density in the Japanese serow, (Journal of Mammalogy, 83(4): 964-972.).
Takatsuki, S., N. Ôsugi, T. Itô. 1988. A Note on the Food Habits of the Japanese Serow at the Western Foothill of Mt. Zao, northern Japan. Journal of the Mammalogical Society of Japan, 13(2): 139-142.
Tokida, K., S. Miura. 1988. Mortality and Life Table of a Japanese Serow (Journal of the Mammalogical Society of Japan, 13(2): 119-126.) Population in Iwate Prefecture, Japan.