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ŠUMARSKI LIST 9-10/2021 str. 18     <-- 18 -->        PDF

cannot be applied to the fallen stock, for they are not as stable as the teeth, antlers, and horns.
During the second half of the 20th century, the new indices have been developed for the sake of ungulate population monitoring: mandible length (Stubbe and Gleich 1990, Nugent and Frempton 1994, Hewison et al. 1996), hind leg length (Suttie and Mitchell 1983), and horn length (Bunell 1978). Although these indices have deficiencies as well, their advantage lies in a fact that they are less dependent on a head age. Hereby, one should emphasize two crucial benefits of a practical implementation of horn length as a population quality criterion: the horns are easily accessible for an analysis because they are a hunting trophy (1), and it is easy to estimate an individual’s age on them (2). A fact that the horns, in certain species, are sported exclusively by the stags is a shortcoming, so the method is not applicable to the hinds as well.
In cervids, the selection of a practical population index is a bit more complex. Should the cervid species that do not sport the antlers be exempted (Hydropotes inermis, Moschus spp.), the antlers are generally sported by the stags. An exemption to it is the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), in which the antlers are sported by the hinds as well, but their antlers are of smaller dimensions (Lincoln 1992). Commonly, the antlers represent a hunting trophy, so a wildlife management focus is shifted to the production of that derivative in most countries. Therefore, it was expected that the cervid population indices should have been developed exactly on the basis of certain antler variables. However, the antler growth and shedding are connected with certain cycles, mostly the annual ones, so the recent antler dimensions are connected with a specific season (Mysterud et al. 2005, Landete‐Castillejos et al. 2010). On the other hand, an age estimation in cervids is not that simple as in bovids. In spite of that, it has been proven so far that certain antler variables may be used as the population indices. These variables are as follows: branch length in yearlings (Schmidt et al. 2001, Gaspar-López et al. 2008), branch perimeter (Rasmussen 1985), or an asymmetry (Solberg and Saether 1993, Pélabon and van Breukelen 1998, Putman et al. 2000, Mateos et al. 2008, Martínez Salmeron 2014).
The red deer (Cervus elaphus) antler (trophy) evaluation methods are described in three trophy evaluation systems: CIC (Hromas et al. 2008), SCI (, and Rowland Ward (, about which a database is maintained in each of the systems, while the hunting trophy evaluation is a legal obligation in certain countries (e.g., in Croatia, Anon. 2008). Antler evaluation has a relatively long tradition in Central Europe (Krapinec et al. 2009), but a question is recently being raised of whether the evaluation fundament is exclusively a subject of hunting tournaments or the measured variables may be used for a population quality estimation. Therefore, this paper’s objective is to examine whether a trophy strength may be utilized as a population index.
The research was conducted on the red deer trophies from the State hunting ground “Garjevica”, which is located in the central part of Croatia’s Pannonian region, in the eastern part of Moslavačka Gora (Fig. 1), at the altitudes from 125 to 488 m. According to Köppen, the Hunting ground belongs to the Cfbx climate type (Seletković and Katušin 1992). It is a moderately warm pluvial climate, there is no dry period, precipitations are equally distributed throughout a year, and the driest part of the year coincides with a cold season. There is a furcate auxiliary precipitation maximum of the warm part of the year, splitting in a maximum in the spring (May) and in the late summer (July or August), and there is a drier period between them. The temperature of the coldest month ranges above –3 °C. The summers are cool, with an average temperature of the warmest month ranging below 22 °C.
Garjevica has an area amounting to 14 305 ha. According to the data of CORINE Land Cover 2000—Croatia, the forests constitute 80% (11 441 ha) of the hunting ground area. The shares of other land use types are as follows: arable lands 9% (1 331 ha), grasslands (mostly meadows) 7% (957 ha), and built‐on lands 1% (137 ha). The forest stand shares in view of structural classifications are as follows: even-aged seed stands of European beech (Fagus sylvatica) constitute 46% of forests, even-aged