Testing a Local Inbreeding Hypothesis as a Cause of Observed Antler Characteristics in Managed Populations of White-Tailed Deer Academic Article uri icon


  • The increased use of antler restrictions by state game agencies has led to a focus on antlers by the hunting public, particularly the potential for an association between genetics and antler characteristics. We analyzed microsatellite data from 1231 male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from three states (Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Texas) within USA to determine if genetic relatedness, internal relatedness (IR), homozygosity weighted by locus (HL), or correlations among uniting gametes (Fis) influenced total antler points, antler score, non-typical points or antler malformations. Within each location, deer in the lower and upper quartile intervals for number of antler points and score were unrelated (95% CI included 0 or was <0) and relatively heterozygous for four measures of inbreeding. Antler score and points were positively influenced by age but negatively influenced by IR and HL, except for antler score in Mississippi. Relatedness, HL, IR and Fis did not differ between groups of deer with and without antler malformations. Perceived differences in antler quality do not appear to be affected by heterozygosity or a result of close inbreeding because we found deer were unrelated and measures of inbreeding and genome-wide heterozygosity were not correlated with antler characteristics.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 2.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Webb, S. L., DeYoung, R. W., Demarais, S., Strickland, B. K., & Gee, K. L.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Webb, Stephen L||DeYoung, Randy W||Demarais, Stephen||Strickland, Bronson K||Gee, Kenneth L

publication date

  • March 2021