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This paper examines the effects of increasing population density on the skeletal development of roe deer as indexed by variation in the size of the mandible. We tested for density-dependence in total jaw length and minimum diastema height among cohorts in a single, intensively studied population in France. A strong relationship of average adult jaw length of both males and females with deer density in the year of birth of a given cohort was observed, and presumably reflects inadequate nutrition of juveniles at high population density. No such relationship was observed for the minimum diastema height which remained constant over the range of densities studied. This relationship was exploited to investigate population trends of roe deer in Britain. In nine populations, where equivalent data were available for between 16 and 28 separate cohorts, a consistent pattern of variation in cohort jaw size was observed, with a decrease in average total length, but not diastema height, towards the present. This trend is discussed in relation to changes in habitat structure in the coniferous forests of Britain. The utility of cohort jaw length as a management tool to index population trends of roe deer is highlighted.