Non-Invasive Genetic Sampling of Southern Mule Deer Reveals Limited Movement Across California State Route 67 in San Diego County

Type: journal article

Article abstract: The Southern Mule Deer is a mobile but non-migratory large mammal found throughout southern California and is a covered species in the San Diego Multi-Species Conservation Plan. We assessed deer movement and population connectivity across California State Route 67 and two smaller roads in eastern San Diego County using non-invasive genetic sampling. We collected deer scat pellets between April and November 2015, and genotyped pellets at 15 microsatellites and a sex determination marker. We successfully genotyped 71 unique individuals from throughout the study area and detected nine recapture events. Recaptures were generally found close to original capture locations (within 1.5 km). We did not detect recaptures across roads; however, pedigree analysis detected 21 first order relative pairs, of which approximately 20% were found across State Route 67. Exact tests comparing allele frequencies between groups of individuals in pre-defined geographic clusters detected significant genetic differentiation across State Route 67. In contrast, the assignment-based algorithm of STRUCTURE supported a single genetic cluster across the study area. Our data suggest that State Route 67 may reduce, but does not preclude, movement and gene flow of Southern Mule Deer.

Number of pages: 11

Authors: Mitelberg, Anna; Vandergast, Amy;

Journal title: Western Wildlife

Month: July

Year: 2016

Volume: 3

Keywords: genetic; genetic sampling; genetics; mule deer; scat; Southern mule deer;

Species: Mule deer; Southern mule deer


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File owner: San Diego Management and Monitoring Program