Genetic Diversity and Genetic Similarity Between Urban and Rural White-Tailed Deer Populations in Iowa

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2014-04-15
Authors
Briggs, Whitney
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Abstract

Although urbanization negatively impacts many wildlife species, white-tailed deer have successfully adapted to living in urban environments. Abundant resources, such as food and shelter, attract deer to urban habitats and increase their survival rates, supporting high population densities which pose challenges for those tasked with managing urban deer. Understanding the magnitude of movement between deer in urban and surrounding rural areas is pivotal to designing effective population control efforts. The objective of our research is to estimate the degree of genetic similarity between adjacent urban and rural deer populations in several Iowa cities to better understand the amount of movement between them. We extracted DNA from hunter-harvested deer tissue samples and genotyped individuals at 10 microsatellite loci. We then measured genetic diversity and estimated how genetically similar urban and adjacent rural populations were to one another. Preliminary results suggest urban and rural deer are genetically similar enough to infer that they are connected. If urban and rural deer are genetically similar, this suggests there is a high rate of movement between the two areas indicating adjacent rural deer should be included when planning management of urban deer.

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