You are here

Fine-scale social and spatial genetic structure in Sitka black-tailed deer

TitleFine-scale social and spatial genetic structure in Sitka black-tailed deer
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsColson, KE, Brinkman, TJ, Person, DK, Hundertmark, KJ
JournalConservation Genetics

The spatial extent of Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) populations below the regional scale is relatively unknown, as is dispersalbetween populations. Here, we use noninvasive samples to genotype 221 Sitka black-tailed deer in three watersheds on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, separated by a maximum of 44 km, using traditional and spatial genetic approaches. We find that despite geographic proximity, multiple lines of evidence suggest fine-scale genetic structure among the three study sites. The 2 most geographically distant watersheds differed significantly in genetic composition, suggesting an isolation-by-distance pattern. Within study sites, deer exhibited spatial genetic structure within a radius of 1,000 m. Based on a reduced sample of known sex individuals, females exhibited positive spatial genetic structure within a radius of 500 m but males showed no structure. Moreover, females were more likely to be related to their 5 nearest female neighbors, regardless of distance, than were males. Evidence indicates dispersal by both sexes although it may be more common, or dispersaldistances are greater, in males. Nonetheless, analysis of assignment indices and comparison of sex-specific correlograms found no evidence of sex-biased dispersal between watersheds. Patterns of spatial relatedness and connectivity suggest limited dispersal among Sitka black-tailed deer, creating genetic structure on a fine spatial scale, perhaps as small as the watershed.

Username Tag: