Muntiacus feaeFea's muntjac

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Geographic Range

Fea's muntjacs are found in Thailand and the southernmost region of Myanmar that lies directly to the west of Thailand, known as Tenasserim. Some reports include Laos, Vietnam, and southern China as part of the former range of this species. (IUCN, 2004; Whitehead, 1972)

Habitat

Fea's muntjacs are woodland dwellers, preferring moist sub-tropical forests. They live in evergreen forests as well as teak forests, and rarely leave dense vegetation to forage in fields. They are found at elevations of less than 1500 meters. (Asean Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, 2006; Whitehead, 1972)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1500 m
    0.00 to 4921.26 ft

Physical Description

Fea's muntjacs, Muntiacus feae, are similar in size to Indian muntjacs, Muntiacus muntjak, which measures 57 cm at shoulder height. Unlike Indian muntjacs, in which males are taller than females, M. feae females are taller than males by 6 to 7 cm. The average weight of an adult M. feae is 22 kg. This small deer is uniformly brown in color with light stripes down the back of the legs and yellow hair at the crown of the head and around the pedicles. Tufts of hair on the forehead may be lighter in color. The relatively long tail is fringed with white hair. The elongated pedicles of males' antlers converge and each has a black line running up its center. The antlers are slightly longer than those of other barking deer (e.g. black muntjac Muntiacus crinifrons, which has antlers that do not exceed 60 mm in length). The long pedicles of muntjacs may be an adaptation to minimize the energy required to regrow antlers after they are shed, as the tropics are relatively nutrient-poor. Males have tusk-like canines that are 1 to 2 cm long. (Asean Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, 2006; Geist, 1998; Whitehead, 1972)

  • Average mass
    22 kg
    48.46 lb

Reproduction

Males may compete for access to females by sparring with antlers or fighting using their fang-like canines, although little is known directly about M. feae mating. Males likely defend a territory that encompasses that of several females. (Geist, 1998)

Muntiacus feae likely breeds year-round as do other subtropical muntjacs, but breeding may be concentrated in winter months. The thinner pedicles compared to other members of subfamily Cervinae suggest that intraspecific fighting with antlers in males may have a less important role in competition for mates than in other muntjacs. Little is known about the reproduction of M. feae, but there are likely many similarities to other muntjacs. Chinese muntjacs Muntiacus reevesi have a gestation period of 243 days, with most females reaching sexual maturity by twelve months of age. In Chinese muntjacs, half of conceptions studied in one captive population occurred during the two-week long estrus period that females undergo immediately after giving birth. As is common for most deer, M. feae females usually give birth to one fawn which is darkly colored and remains with the mother until it reaches maturity. (Asean Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, 2006; Geist, 1998)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding occurs throughout the year.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding may be concentrated in the winter months.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average gestation period
    8.1 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    12 months

Young M. feae stay with their mother until they reach maturity. Fathers have little to do with raising the young, as they remain very territorial throughout the year. The male's territory may encompass that of several females, but competition for resources may occur between males and females. Little is known regarding the involvement of the parents in the raising of young. (Geist, 1998)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Muntiacus feae, like other muntjacs, has a relatively short lifespan compared to other cervids. Few data are available on the longevity of M. feae, but one wild-born specimen lived to nearly 12 years of age in captivity. Given its rapid maturation and generalist tendencies, M. feae is assumed to fill a duiker-like role in ecosystems and would likely have a similar lifespan of a decade or less. (Geist, 1998; Weigl, 2005)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    11.6 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    up to 10 (high) years

Behavior

Muntiacus feae is solitary and nocturnal, and not much is known regarding its behavior in the wild. Males of other species of muntjac commonly spar by locking antlers to determine territorial boundaries and dominance, and may use their tusk-like canines as offensive weapons. In the wild, male Chinese muntjacs, Muntiacus reevesi, form loose social heirarchies, but the extent to which this occurs in M. feae is debatable. When startled, Fea's muntjacs will flee in a series of agile jumps along known trails. (Barrette, 1977; Geist, 1998; Whitehead, 1972)

Home Range

Males likely maintain territories that encompass those of several females, though little is known about territory size or home range. (Geist, 1998)

Communication and Perception

Muntiacus feae individuals make barking noises when startled by predators, possibly to alert conspecifics to danger or to let the predator know it has been detected. During mating, Chinese muntjacs (Muntiacus reevesi) make clicking noises with their teeth. The primary mode of communication in M. feae is likely chemical, as it has frontal glands and can evert preorbital glands to mark territory. (Geist, 1998)

Food Habits

Muntiacus feae, like other muntjacs, is a generalist omnivore, feeding on herbs and leaves, bark, mushrooms, fruits, and possibly even bird eggs, bird young, and small mammals. Muntiacus feae individuals tend to stick to densely wooded areas, preferring more digestible vegetation over grass. Their rumen has two blind sacs, and food is passed through the digestive system relatively quickly in comparison to grass-eating artiodactyls. Foraging occurs primarily at night; small mammals and birds may be killed with the hooves and tusk-like incisors. (Geist, 1998; Whitehead, 1972)

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • eggs
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • fruit

Predation

Predators of these muntjacs include humans, tigers, leopards, dholes, wild dogs, and pythons, among others. Muntjac young may also be killed by wild boars. Muntiacus feae may bark to let a predator know it has been detected or to alert conspecifics to danger. Foraging at night in dense forest may provide some protection from predation. (Geist, 1998; Karanth and Sunquist, 1995)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Fea's muntjacs are important predators of plants and, possibly, small birds and mammals, in the ecosystems in which they live. Their grazing impacts vegetational community composition.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Fea's muntjaca, like other muntjacs, almost certainly provide meat and skins to the people that live within its range. (Geist, 1998)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Muntiacus feae can cause damage to trees meant to be harvested as timber crops by eating their bark. Some reports indicate that muntjacs have taken snared game birds. (Geist, 1998; Whitehead, 1972)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed Muntiacus feae as endangered in 1979. The IUCN Red List formerly described M. feae as endangered, but changed its listing to 'data deficient' in 1996 due to a lack of information on population size and range. Fea's muntjacs are not listed in CITES Appendices. (IUCN, 2004; United States Fisheries and Wildlife Service, 2006)

Other Comments

Fea's muntjacs are closely related to black muntjacs, Muntiacus crinifrons. Fea's muntjacs have an unusually low chromosome number for a mammal (2n = 12 to 14), but a relatively high chromosome number for a muntjac. Genetic studies have shown that M. feae has undergone rapid chromosome evolution compared to other members of the genus Muntiacus, though the genus itself exhibits an elevated rate of change in chromosomal number relative to other mammals. (Geist, 1998; Wang and Lan, 2000)

Contributors

Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Amy Messick (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor, instructor), Michigan State University.

Glossary

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

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.

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

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

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.

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

frugivore

an animal that mainly eats fruit

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

iteroparous

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).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

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

nocturnal

active during the night

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

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

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

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

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

References

Asean Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, 2006. "Biodiversity information sharing service" (On-line). Accessed February 24, 2006 at http://arcbc.org.

Barrette, C. 1977. Fighting behavior of muntjac and the evolution of antlers. Evolution, 31(1): 169-176.

Geist, V. 1998. Deer of the World. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books.

IUCN, 2004. "The 2004 IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed February 24, 2006 at www.iucnredlist.org.

Karanth, K., M. Sunquist. 1995. Prey selection by tiger, leopard, and dhole in tropical forests. Journal of Animal Ecology, 64(4): 439-450.

United States Fisheries and Wildlife Service, 2006. "USFWS Threatened and Endangered Species System" (On-line). Accessed February 24, 2006 at http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/TESSSpeciesReport.

Wang, W., H. Lan. 2000. Rapid and parallel chromosomal number reductions in muntjac deer inferred from mitochondrial DNA phylogeny. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 17(9): 1326-1333.

Weigl, R. 2005. Longevity of Mammals in Captivity; from the Living Collections of the World. Stuttgart, Germany: Kleine Senckenberg-Reihe 48. Accessed February 24, 2006 at http://genomics.senescence.info/species/biblio.php?id=0671.

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