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Alpine ibex
Alpine ibex.jpg
General Information
Universe Real Life
Aliases Steinbock
Bouquetin
Ibex
Classification Capra ibex
Species Type Goat
Homeworld Earth
Environment Mountains
Intelligence Non-sapient
Biochemistry Carbon-based
Biological Information
Lifespan Wild: 19 years
Captivity: 20-21 years
Reproduction Sexual, viviparous
Average Height ♂: 90 to 101 cm (35 to 40 in) at shoulder
♀: 73 to 84 cm (29 to 33 in) at shoulder
Average Weight ♂: 67 to 117 kg (148 to 258 lb)
♀: 17 to 32 kg (37 to 71 lb)
Average Length ♂: 149 to 171 cm (59 to 67 in)
♀: 121 to 141 cm (48 to 56 in)
Locomotion Quadrupedal
Feeding Behavior Herbivorous
Predators Wolves
Bears
Foxes
Lynxes
Lineage Information
Related Species Common ibex
West Caucasian tur
East Caucasian tur
Markhor
Domestic goat
Nubian ibex
Spanish ibex
Siberian ibex
Walia ibex
Cultural Information
Sociocultral characteristics
Scientific Taxonomy
Planet Earth
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Infrakingdom Deuterostomia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Mammalia
Subclass Theria
Infraclass Placentalia
Superorder Laurasiatheria
Order Artiodactyla
Suborder Ruminantia
Infraorder Pecora
Family Bovidae
Subfamily Caprinae
Tribe Caprini
Genus Capra
Species C. ibex
Other Information
Status Least Concern
Creator God (debated)

The Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) is a species of wild goat that lives in the Alpine Mountain Range.

Appearance[]

Compared with other members of its genus, the Alpine ibex has a short, broad head and a duller coat. It has brownish-grey hair over most of the body, a pale abdomen, and slightly darker markings on the chin and throat and in a stripe along the back. They moult twice a year, firstly in April or May, and then again in September, when they replace the short summer coat with thicker hair and a woolly undercoat.

Males commonly grow to a height of 90 to 101 cm (35 to 40 in) at the withers, with a body length of 149 to 171 cm (59 to 67 in) and weigh from 67 to 117 kg (148 to 258 lb). Females are noticeably smaller, with a shoulder height of 73 to 84 cm (29 to 33 in), a body length of 121 to 141 cm (48 to 56 in), and a weight of 17 to 32 kg (37 to 71 lb). Both male and female Alpine ibex have large, backwards-curving horns with numerous ridges along their length. At 69 to 98 cm (27 to 39 in), those of the males are substantially larger than those of females, which reach only 18 to 35 cm (7.1 to 13.8 in) in length.

Distribution and ecology[]

The Alpine ibex was, at one point, restricted only to the Gran Paradiso National Park in northern Italy, and the contiguous Maurienne Valley in the French Alps but it was reintroduced to most of the Alps. Reintroductions started in 1906 into Switzerland. Alpine ibex are now found in most or all of the Italian and French alpine ranges, southern Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It has also been introduced to Bulgaria and Slovenia.

An excellent climber, its preferred habitat is the rocky region along the snow line above alpine forests, where it occupies steep, rough terrain at elevations of 1,800 to 3,300 m (5,900 to 10,800 ft). Alpine ibex are typically absent from woodland areas, although adult males in densely populated areas may stay in larch and mixed larch-spruce woodland if no snow has fallen. Males spend the winter in coniferous forests. For most of the year, males and females occupy different habitats. Females rely on steep terrain more so than males. Males use lowland meadows during the spring, which is when snow melts and green grass appears. They then climb to alpine meadows during the summer. When winter arrives, both sexes move to steep, rocky slopes that amass little snow. They prefer slopes of 30–45° and use small caves and overhangs for shelter. Home ranges are highly variable, depending on the availability of resources, and vary in size throughout the year. Figures from 180 to 2,800 ha (0.69 to 10.81 sq mi) have been recorded. Home ranges tend to be largest during summer and autumn, smallest in winter, and intermediate in spring. Female home ranges are usually smaller than those of males. Alpine ibex appear to have a low rate of predation and in Gran Paradiso typically die of age, starvation, or disease.

Foraging[]

Alpine ibex are strictly herbivorous, with over half of their diet consisting of grasses, and the remainder being a mixture of mosses, flowers, leaves, and twigs. If leaves and shoots are out of reach, they often stand on their rear legs to reach this food. Grass genera that are the most commonly eaten are Agrostis, Avena, Calamagrostis, Festuca, Phleum, Poa, Sesleria, and Trisetum. The climbing ability of the Alpine ibex is such that it has been observed standing on the sheer face of the Cingino Dam in Piedmont, Italy, where it licks the stonework to obtain mineral salts.

Life history[]

Although the Alpine ibex is a social species, they segregate sexually and spatially depending on the season. Four types of groups exist: Adult male groups, female-offspring groups, groups of young individuals 2–3 years old, and mixed-sex groups. Young groups are numerous at the beginning of summer, but are expelled by females at the end of their gestation period. Female and offspring groups occur year-round, at least in an area of the French Alps. Mixed-sex groups of adult males and females occur during breeding, which lasts from December to January. By April and May, the adults separate. The largest aggregations of either sex occur during June and July. Gatherings of males begin to decrease during October and November, and are lowest from the rut from December to March. The males then leave their separate wintering areas and gather again.

A linear dominance hierarchy exists among males. In small populations, which are more cohesive, males know their place in the hierarchy based on memories of past encounters, while in mobile and large groups, where encounters with strangers are common, rank is based on horn size. Antagonistic behavior in males can come in the form of "direct" or "indirect" aggression. With direct aggression, one male bumps another with his horns or places himself in front of his opponent. He stands on his hind legs and comes down on his opponent with his horns. This may signal that he is ready to clash or may be attempting a real clash. Indirect aggression is mostly intimidation displays.

Reproduction and growth[]

The breeding season starts in December, and typically lasts around six weeks. During this time, male herds break up into smaller groups that search for females. The rut takes place in two phases. In the first phase, the male groups interact with the females that are all in oestrous. The higher the male's rank, the closer he can get to a female. Males perform courtship displays. In the second phase of the rut, one male separates from his group to follow an individual female. He displays to her and guards her from other males. Before copulation, the female moves her tail and courtship becomes more intense. They copulate and then he rejoins his group and reverts to the first phase. Gestation lasts around 167 days, and results in the birth of one or two kids, with twins making up about 20% of births.

Alpine ibex reach sexual maturity at 18 months, but females do not reach their maximum body size for five to six years, and males not for 9–11 years. The horns grow throughout life, growing most rapidly during the second year of life, and thereafter by about 8 cm (3.1 in) a year, eventually slowing to half that rate once the animal reaches 10 years of age. Alpine ibex live for up to 19 years in the wild.

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