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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Male red deer (Cervus elaphus) dispersal during the breeding season

Jarnemo, Anders


Breeding dispersal can be of significant ecological and evolutionary importance. Yet, it is seldom considered in mammals. I present data on male red deer (Cervus elaphus) movements between sub-populations in southern Sweden during the rut. I investigated whether these movements could be breeding dispersal driven by mate competition. During the ruts of 1998-2009, I recorded 91 movements of males. The longest movement distance was 18.5 km. Dispersal was not restricted to yearlings or sub-adults, but also observed among adult stags. Of 91 movements observed, 7 were made by yearlings, 46 by sub-adults and 38 by adults. There was a significant move among yearlings and sub-adults towards areas with a higher ratio of females/adult males and towards areas with more females. The movements between rutting areas thereby seemed driven by sexual competition.


Breeding dispersal; Deer management; Gene flow; Intra-sexual competition; Reproductive strategy

Published in

Journal of Ethology
2011, volume: 29, number: 2, pages: 329-336

Authors' information

Jarnemo, Anders
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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