Two populations of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) were studied; one was unhunted, and in the other the 3 oldest [male][male] were removed during the hunting season. One month later, the remaining 9 males (aged 2.5-7.5 yr) courted and successfully copulated with adult oestrous [female][female]. A comparison of the courtship behaviour of these young [male][male] with that of [male][male] aged up to 20.5 yr in the unhunted population, which had a typical [male]-age structure, showed no significant qualitative or quantitative differences. However, young [male][male] in the unhunted population failed to copulate with oestrous [female][female], and also performed mainly immature patterns in [male]-[male] interactions, even when they were the largest [male][male]. It is concluded that social maturation in mountain sheep is not simply a function of age but is related to the population's social structure and composition.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Department of Animal Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 2A2, Canada.|
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