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Heritability estimates of antler and body traits in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from genomic-relatedness matrices.

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Jamieson, Aidan
Anderson, Spencer J.
Northrup, Joseph M.
Shafer, Aaron B. A
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Oxford University Press
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Estimating heritability (h²) is required to predict the response to selection and is useful in species that are managed or farmed using trait information. Estimating h² in free-ranging populations is challenging due to the need for pedigrees; genomic-relatedness matrices (GRMs) circumvent this need and can be implemented in nearly any system where phenotypic and genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data are available. We estimated the heritability of 5 body and 3 antler traits in a free-ranging population of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on Anticosti Island, Quebec, Canada. We generated classic and robust GRMs from >10,000 SNPs: hind foot length, dressed body mass, and peroneus muscle mass had high h² values of 0.62, 0.44, and 0.55, respectively. Heritability in male-only antler features ranged from 0.07 to 0.33. We explored the influence of filtering by minor allele frequency and data completion on h²: GRMs derived from fewer SNPs had reduced h² estimates and the relatedness coefficients significantly deviated from those generated with more SNPs. As a corollary, we discussed limitations to the application of GRMs in the wild, notably how skewed GRMs, specifically many unrelated individuals, can increase variance around h² estimates. This is the first study to estimate h² on a free-ranging population of white-tailed deer and should be informative for breeding designs and management as these traits could respond to selection.
Journal of heredity, Vol. 111, (5), 429–435 (2020)
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Quantitative genetics , Animal model , Pedigree free , Antlers , Natural population , Game farm , Harvest
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article de recherche