Implications of Quality Deer Management on Population Demographics, Social Pressures, Dispersal Ecology, and the Genetic Mating System of White-tailed Deer at Chesapeake Farms, Maryland.

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Title: Implications of Quality Deer Management on Population Demographics, Social Pressures, Dispersal Ecology, and the Genetic Mating System of White-tailed Deer at Chesapeake Farms, Maryland.
Author: Shaw, Jonathan Christopher
Advisors: Richard A. Lancia, Committee Chair
Abstract: Quality deer management (QDM) is widely accepted as a principled management practice, yet QDM implications for population processes are unclear. Our research primarily focused on components of (1) dispersal ecology and (2) the genetic mating system of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) under QDM at Chesapeake Farms, Maryland. The objectives of our dispersal ecology research were: (1) to compare pre- and post-QDM dispersal parameter estimates, and (2) evaluate inbreeding avoidance and sexual-competition hypotheses as mechanisms of dispersal. Emigration of yearling males pre-QDM was 0.70 + 0.07, and post-QDM was 0.54 + 0.10. Genetic maternity analysis indicated that dispersal of orphans and non-orphans was similar. Dispersers exhibited breeding competition with other yearling males more often than nondispersers, and yearling male antler points appeared to be related to dispersal status in both pre- and post-QDM populations. Overall breeding behaviors of yearling males decreased from pre- to post-QDM. Our results fail to support inbreeding avoidance and support sexual-competition as a cause of fall dispersal at Chesapeake Farms. Through QDM, an older male age structure may have suppressed breeding competition in yearling males and decreased dispersal rates. The objectives of our genetic mating system research were to evaluate: (1) age-specific male breeding success; (2) relationships of weight and antler size with male breeding success; (3) instances of multiple paternity in single litters; and (4) male and female mate selection. We observed higher breeding success of males >3.5-years old in comparison to males <2.5-years old; however, several males across age-classes bred; antler and body size were not important factors in breeding success; instances of multiple paternity of single litters occurred; and mate selection did not occur. Our results fail to support the prevailing observation-based mating system paradigm where few dominant males monopolize breeding opportunities. In populations with high estrous synchrony, dominant males fail to effectively monopolize tending bonds, and subordinate males may successfully breed surplus females via surreptitious fertilization.
Date: 2005-07-20
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Forestry
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4439


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