Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2001


Genetic data from a long-term (16-year) study of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site (SRS) were examined to evaluate spatial and temporal genetic heterogeneity in this species. Based on our analyses of the long-term data set, three major findings emerged, all of which have important implications for management of white-tailed deer: (1) There exists significant spatial genetic heterogeneity in white-tailed deer based on analyses of allozyme frequencies and mtDNA haplotypes. This heterogeneity exists on a much smaller spatial scale than would be expected for such a large and potentially mobile species as 0. virginianus. (2) The genetic structure of white-tailed deer at SRS is temporally dynamic and significant heterogeneity exists within demographic units such as age and sex classes. (3) Levels of genetic variation, as measured by multilocus heterozygosity, are frequently correlated to characteristics that are important determinants of ecological function in white-tailed deer populations. These findings are evaluated in the context of a general management model for 0. virginianus that is also applicable to other wildlife species.

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