Deer antlers can be used as an index of individual performance both in ecological and productive contexts. Their quality is often measured only by their biometrical features, such as size, asymmetry or weight. Mechanic characteristics cannot normally be measured without destroying the antler and hence losing the commercial value of the trophies. Here, we studied ultrasonic velocities, density, and tensile strength across various sections of cast antlers of Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus). We found that the speed value depended on the section of the antler and the propagation direction. For antler sections, velocities were lowest for mid–beam and highest for brow tine. Results were similar for density and indirect tensile strength, probably related to differences in functionality among antler sections. Density explained most of the variability of ultrasound–speed. The time elapsed from antler shed affected density more than ultrasound speed. The indirect tensile strength showed a non–linear, decelerating relationship with ultrasound speed. We discuss the applications of ultrasound speed as a non–invasive tool to measure density and physical properties of antlers and antler sections, and their potential use as an index of quality.
Cervus elaphus hispanicus, Deer antlers, Deer population management, Hunting trophies, Iberian red deer, Ultrasound
Reception date: 05 XI 19 | Acceptation date: 15 VI 20 | Publication date: 10 VII 20
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