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Tuesday, August 7 • 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Genetics Track: Camouflage Patterns Are Highly Heritable But Predictability Varies Among Three Populations Of White-Tailed Deer

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AUTHORS: Colby Henderson, Eric Michel, Steve Demarais, Bronson Strickland – Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University

ABSTRACT: If ungulate neonate cryptic coloration provides a survival advantage, it should be heritable and adapted to their prevailing environment. However, recent changes in land-use and predation pressure may have created a mismatch between previously adapted camouflage and the current environment. In Mississippi, USA, row crop agriculture has altered some landscapes while recovery of native predators and establishment of novel predators may apply new directional pressures. We assessed if spotting characteristics of neonate white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were heritable and if they accurately predicted region of origin, indicating adaptation to specific environmental characteristics. Spotting characteristics were moderately (total number of spotting clusters; h2=0.36) to highly (number of single spots; h2=0.85) heritable, suggesting specific characteristics may provide an adaptive advantage. Camouflage patterns were moderately distinctive for neonates with lineages originating in the Lower Coastal Plain and Thin Loess (≥ 67% neonates accurately classified into their respective region) supporting previous selection for specific patterns at the regional level. However, camouflage patterns failed to predict region of origin for neonates originating from the Delta region (0%), suggesting disruption of previous adaptation. Of the three regions (Figure 1), the Delta is the most heavily converted from forested habitats, with over 70% in agriculture, while the Lower Coastal Plain and Thin Loess are less than 40% and 21% agriculture, respectively. Given that camouflage patterns are heritable and neonates displaying successful camouflage patterns should display increased survival, the lack of a predictable pattern within the dynamic Delta landscape suggests that major land use changes and new predatory pressures may have disrupted the neonate cryptic coloration best suited to this population’s current environment.

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4PM pdf

Tuesday August 7, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Assembly Hall B
  • Slides Available Yes

Attendees (2)