Evaluation of reproductive behavior in white-tailed deer through genetic parentage analysis
Type of Degreethesis
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
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Few studies have utilized genetic technology to examine reproductive behavior in white-tailed deer through parentage analysis, resulting in gaps in knowledge of reproductive behavior in white-tailed deer. This study examined relationships between reproductive success in male white-tailed deer and body size, age, and antler characteristics, age-related mate choice, and inbreeding avoidance using genetic parentage assignment. Between December 2007 and August 2010, 115 deer from inside a 174-ha high-fence facility in Alabama were sampled and genotyped. Fifty-four paternities and 48 maternities were assigned using the program CERVUS. No relationship was detected between male reproductive success, body size, and antler characteristics. However, prime-aged males were more likely to breed and sired more offspring on average than younger males. Three cases of multiple paternity were observed, including the first reported triplet multiple paternity with 3 different sires. Evidence of age-related mate choice was identified, but no evidence of inbreeding avoidance behaviors was found.