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Variance Component Analysis and Heritability of Antler Traits in White-Tailed Deer

Steven D. Lukefahr and Harry A. Jacobson
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 62, No. 1 (Jan., 1998), pp. 262-268
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802287
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802287
Page Count: 7
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Variance Component Analysis and Heritability of Antler Traits in White-Tailed Deer
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Abstract

Information on genetic and environmental sources of variation that control antler development in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is needed to develop harvest management programs. We estimated genetic and environmental components of variance for antler development traits collected from deer born from 1977 to 1993 in a captive population. Antler traits were incidence of spikes versus forks, number of points, maximum inside spread, total mass, main beam circumference, and main beam length. In 1.5-year-old males, the degree of additive genetic determination, or heritability $(\text{h}^{2})$, was low (range = 0.00-0.13) for incidence of spikes versus forks, number of points, maximum inside spread, total mass, and main beam length, and was moderate for main beam circumference $(\text{h}^{2}=0.25)$. The relatively large carryover influence of the dam as a source of variation was more important than heritability. In 2.5-year-old males, antler-trait heritabilities were low to moderate (0.08-0.39), whereas heritability ranged from 0.03 to 0.43 in mature males (3.5-7.5 years old) with repeated antler-trait records. Permanent and residual effects caused by nonadditive genetic and environmental factors accounted for most of the variation in antler traits expressed by mature males. Our results do not support the use of yearling antler records as criteria for selective breeding management or harvest schemes to alter the genetic quality of a white-tailed deer population.

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