Hippocamelus antisensistaruca(Also: Peruvian guemal)

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Geographic Range

The Andean Deer ranges through Andean Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. In the Andes, they are found from 12 to 28 degrees South latitude (Geist 1998).

Habitat

The Andean deer lives at high elevations (4,100 to 5,000 meters) on rock outcrops. It is rarely found below elevations of 3,960 meters. Home ranges exceed 2km in length. The deer habitat exhibit large daily temperature ranges and large amounts of seasonal rainfall.

Physical Description

The Andean deer has a stocky, thick, and short-legged body. A characteristic of the teeth morphology is the presence of canines. Males possess antlers that fork once and the front prong is usually shorter. The antlers are also relatively small in size. Antlers in large males measure 22 to 27cm. In males the ears are lengthy and narrow and the tail extends less than 10 percent of length of the body. Sexual dimorphism is pronounced. The shoulder height of males is 74-77cm, while that of females is 69-71cm. Both sexes have speckled yellowish gray brown fur and a tail that is dark brown on top and white on the undersurface (Nowak 1983). Also, male and females have a pale colored throat, a dark band fur coloration over the eyes, and a light band around the muzzle (Geist 1998).

  • Range mass
    45 (low) kg
    99.12 (low) lb
  • Average mass
    68.6 kg
    151.10 lb

Reproduction

Reproduction is seasonal and rutting peaks in June and July during the driest season. The gestation period is 240 days; this is unusually long for a small deer (Geist 1998).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    255 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

The Andean deer lives at high elevations in herds and in bisexual groups of four to nine members. The groups are closely tied together; they are largest during the mating season. There is some movement between groups of both males and females during the mating season. The bucks guard the females that they mate with. There is no territorial defense of the females by the males; males compete for females by fighting with their antlers. During the fawning period, females separate from the groups. This segregation lasts for about 30 days (Geist 1998). There is an integral relationship between reproduction and antler growth. Most deer drop antlers in October and November at the onset of the rainy season. By December, all males are in velvet; in January, about 30 percent of the males have shed velvet; in May, all males have hard antlers (Geist 1998). The deer has few natural predators; one of the main ones is the puma. The mountain fox may also take newly born fawns (Whitehead 1972). The deer seem to avoid predators by hiding and leaving areas with predators inconspicuously. However, if they are discovered in immediate range of a predator they escape quickly. While fleeing they will often place an obstacle between themselves and the predator (Geist 1998).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The Andean Deer is a herbivore, and its diet is composed mostly of sedges and grasses found between the rocks on high peaks. These deer also move change elevation according to the time of the year. During the rainy season (December to May), they head for higher elevations in search of food (Whitehead 1972).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The Andean deer positively benefits humans by being a source of food. Humans also hunt the animal for its fur and antlers

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There may be a conflict with the deer eating crops at lower altitudes and competing with domestic stock animals at higher altitudes (Putman 1988).

Conservation Status

The Andean deer has been on the Endangered list since 1976. Population decline has been linked to poaching. The number of deer killed by white hunters in Peru is probably very small, but the Indians who live throughout the year at these altitudes undoubtedly take a considerable toll (Whitehead 1972). Also, loss of habitat to agriculture at lower altitudes, competition with domestic stock at higher altitudes, and loss of habitat due to logging operations may also play a role in their decline.

Other Comments

Other common names of Hippocamelus antisensis include North Andean deer, turuka, taruga, guamal, Peruvian huemul, and North huemul. A captive specimen of H.antisensis lived for 10 years and 7 months (Nowak 1983). Another species of Andean deer is recognized, Hippocamelus bisulcus. It is found further south in the Andes of Chile and western Argentina. The ranges of the two species are separated by a large gap.

Contributors

Brian Putz (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

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.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

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.

migratory

makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

References

10/13/1999. "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Homepage" (On-line). Accessed October 13, 1999 at http://www.fws.gov.

Geist, V. 1998. Deer of the World, Their evolution, Behaviour, and Ecology. New York: Stackpole Books.

Nowak, R., J. Paradiso. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the World, 4th edition, Volume II. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Putman, R. 1988. The Natural History of Deer. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Whitehead, G. 1972. Deer of the World. London: Constable and Company.