Segmental analyses of hair may be useful for measuring biomarkers over several seasons to years from a single sample. To attribute hair segments to specific time periods, a known chronological marker, or a hair growth rate, is needed. We examined guard hair growth rate of captive muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) in Fairbanks, Alaska, USA. We sought to determine if a general growth rate could be applied across muskox populations, thus facilitating the use of segmental analyses for various biomarkers. We used archived samples from 16 muskoxen that had guard hairs sampled at six, 14, and 30 wk after shaving. We measured the lengths of 10 guard hairs per sample, calculated weekly and annual growth rates, and then fitted linear mixed-effects models to assess the effect of different covariates on hair growth rate. The period in which hair had been grown had a significant effect (P<0.05) on growth rate. Extrapolated annual hair growth rates were 277±40 mm/yr (weeks 0–6), 248±47 mm/yr (weeks 7–14), and 165±36 mm/yr (weeks 15–30), with an overall average rate of 210±14 mm/yr. These rates were significantly faster than those of free-ranging Greenland muskoxen—78 mm/yr as measured by stable isotope analyses—and varied intra-annually. This suggests that a universal growth rate cannot be generalized across muskox populations and time.

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