How might I find some specific information online about Bactrian Deer?
March 6, 2010 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Where might I find specific information about Bactrian Deer?

A friend has a kid who is researching Bactrian Deer. Personally, I have never heard of them, but I told them I'd do a little looking. They've apparently gotten most of the info they need except for some specifics, such as height, weight, and length of the deer, as well as as how long the females are pregnant, and what they eat.

Seems like basic info that should be available in any source of info about these deer, but, jeez, my googling doesn't seem to help matters. Wikipedia, for example, has very little info.

Can anyone steer me in the right direction (online, of course). I seem to have read one source that says Bactrian Deer are the same as North American Elk, but then found another source that negated that info. Reliable online information, anyone???
posted by newfers to Pets & Animals (6 answers total)
For flora and fauna, one gets much better results if the Latin name is used rather than the common name as the later often gets applied to more than one species and many species have more than one common name. Try googling for "Cervus elaphus bactrianus." (The North American Elk is Cervus canadensis).
posted by jamaro at 3:01 PM on March 6, 2010

Still not much luck finding any specific info.... hmmm...
posted by newfers at 4:40 PM on March 6, 2010

Try google scholar instead. For example one of the first hits was this (pdf) which looks promising. Basically you want to be looking in the scientific literature rather than general webpages, and yeah the latin name will help (as well as clarifying which common names are this deer and which aren't).
posted by shelleycat at 6:03 PM on March 6, 2010

This, believe it or not, is a non-trivial problem - whoever is setting your friend's kid's homework is a biological sadist. The problem is that there are many subspecies of the red deer (Cervus elaphus) and disagreement amongst deer biologists about which subspecies are important/real/different enough to be worth giving a name to and studying separately. The Bactrian Deer, also known as the Bukhara Deer, is one of these troublesome subspecies which might or might not be an important subdivision.

To cut a very long story short, despite there being some good anatomical differences (antler structure) between the Bactrian deer subspecies and the others in central Asia, the most influential deer taxonomists (note the relative term) at the moment seem not to recognise the Bactrian Deer as a valid subspecies:

Geist's Deer Of The World

Wilson & Reeder 2005

Instead, they suggest that the Bactrian subspecies is the same as the Yarkand Deer subspecies, which has an identical natural history but is found the other side from the Tian Shan mountain range from the Bactrian. It also doesn't help that the Bactrian Deer was hunted to near extinction in 1962 - in combination with the taxonomy changes and that most of the literature on it in in Russian and from the mid-60s-80s, that'll explain why you're having trouble finding much online.

There's a bit more known about the Yarkand deer (measurements here) and given most of the experts think the two are the same thing, I'm sure it'll do. No weight, unfortunately. Google books seems to have a fair amount, but search for "Cervus elaphus bactrianus" and "Cervus elaphus yarkandensis", perhaps in quotes, to get the right subspecies.

If you really want to know, they seem to have some Bactrian Deer in a captive breeding program at The Wilds in Ohio - you could give them a call...
posted by cromagnon at 6:39 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Here we go - not complete preview, alas, but:

Bannikova's chapter in this old IUCN publication.
posted by cromagnon at 7:03 PM on March 6, 2010

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