Inter- and intra-site differences in wild goat (Capra aegagrus) habitat quality detected through male horn size comparisons in Greek islands
In caprid taxa, horn size is correlated with body mass, being a potential indicator of habitat quality. In this study, horn length and circumference measurements of, genetically similar, native island (Samaria National Forest Park, Crete) and introduced islet (a Game Breeding Station, and a Controlled Hunting Zone) populations of the Vulnerable agrimi were compared and evaluated with respect to population size information. Horns belonged to male animals that died between 1975 and 2016. There were significant age-related differences in inner horn length (annual increments and total) and annulus circumference between the three areas reflecting differences in food resources. Longest horns currently grow in the Controlled Hunting Zone. Length appeared negatively associated with population density. Results, also, showed that, in the short term, forage improvement can reverse horn size decrease trends. To support conservation efforts, it is suggested that native range and islet managers should establish horn measuring in monitoring practices.
KeywordsCarrying capacity cretica Density ex situ Horn Island rule
I wish to thank the Forestry Services of Chania and Kalamata for aiding in fieldwork. Dr. Chris Goldspink (MMU, UK) and an anonymous reviewer provided valuable comments that helped improve this manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Research licenses were provided by the Forest Directorate of Chania for the GBS (Protocol number 15071–06/12/2016), and by the Ministerial Directorates of National Parks and of Forest Management, for the SNFP (Protocol numbers 118780/6126_23-12-2003 and 88780/1209_27-2-2006) and the CHZ (Protocol number 129202/2681_9-9-2015) respectively.
Mr. G.Koutroulis and a local conservationist, Mr. R.Viglis, gave informal permission to examine horns, in their legal possession, for research purposes.
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
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