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Georgia Journal of Science

Abstract

Cheek teeth of 343 white-tailed deer mandibles collected from the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, central Georgia, were examined for the presence of enamel hypoplasia, a permanent enamel defect associated with episodes of severe physiological stress. Hypoplastic defects were observed in 27% of the individuals, with no significant difference between females (26%) and males (27%). Pit hypoplasia occurred most frequently, with most defects located on the hypoconid of the first lower molar. In white-tailed deer, the first lower molars form as fawns transition into functional ruminants and are weaned at the approximate age of 10 weeks. The presence of enamel hypoplasia at this stage in development suggests that this nutritional transition results in severe physiological stress in a large proportion of fawns each year.

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