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An isolated white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population shows unexpected heterozygosity on St. John, US Virgin Islands
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  • Suzanne Nelson,
  • Scott Taylor,
  • Alan McKinley,
  • Jon Reuter
Suzanne Nelson
US Fish and Wildlife Service
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Scott Taylor
The University of Colorado at Boulder
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Alan McKinley
USDA-Wildlife Services
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Jon Reuter
The University of Colorado
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Abstract

This is the first study to document the genetic diversity of the white-tailed deer population on St. John, US Virgin Islands. The island population was founded by a small number of animals, has very limited hunting or predation, and recently experienced a reduction in size following an extended drought in 2015. DNA samples were collected from hair from 23 anesthetized adult deer (13 males, 10 females) ranging in age from 1-8 years (3.36+ 1.9 yr) and also from fecal DNA samples, for a total of 42 individuals analyzed for genetic diversity. The St. John deer data set averaged 4.19 alleles per marker and demonstrates the second lowest number of alleles (A) when compared to other populations of Odocoileus virginianus (4.19). Heterozygosity was similar to the other studies (0.54) with little evidence of inbreeding. To explain the level of heterogygosity and lack of inbreeding within the St. John population, three hypotheses are proposed, including the effect of intrinsic biological traits within the population, a recent infusion of highly heterogeneous loci from North American populations, and a consistent level of immigration from a nearby island. Additional work is needed to further understand the genetic history of the St. John and regional deer populations.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

21 Aug 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
02 Sep 2020Submission Checks Completed
02 Sep 2020Assigned to Editor
08 Sep 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
25 Sep 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
28 Sep 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
03 Nov 20201st Revision Received
04 Nov 2020Submission Checks Completed
04 Nov 2020Assigned to Editor
04 Nov 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
09 Nov 2020Editorial Decision: Accept