Genetic variability in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and its relationship to environmental parameters and herd origin (Cervidae)


Allozyme variation was examined in 1571 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from 29 localities in Tennessee by starch gel electrophoresis. For 11 polymorphic loci, sex-related, age-related and temporal differences were minimal. However, significant spatial hererogeneity was evident in genotypes (contingency table results), allele frequencies (FST=0.057) and heterozygosity. Heterozygosity ranged from 16.9% to 26.8% with a mean of 22.9%. The spatial pattern of allele frequencies determined from Rogers' coefficients of genetic similarity indicated associations based on geographic proximity and stocking history. In hierarchial analyses, physiographic regions accounted for more of the total gene diversity than herd origin groups (populations of similar origin) but less than individual populations. For five loci, physiographic regions accounted for more of the gene diversity than populations, suggesting a selection role in the observed genetic variability. Bivariate and canonical correlation analyses revealed significant associations between environmental and genetic variables. Temperature variables and allele frequencies for three loci (alcohol dehydrogenase, alpha-glycerophosphate dehydrogenase, sorbitol dehydrogenase) had the prominent roles in the multivariate association between environmental and genetic variables. Herd origin, gene flow and selection appear to be involved in the gene diversity in deer from Tennesee. © 1987 Dr W. Junk Publishers.

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