Title:  Heritabilities for antler characteristics and body weight in white-tailed deer
Author(s): Williams, J. D., W. F. Krueger, and D. E. Harmel
Year: 1993
Abstract: This study was designed to obtain reliable heritability estimates for birth (BW) and 1.5 year body weight (WT), number of antler points (PT), main beam length (MB), antler spread (SP), antler basal circumference (BC), and antler weight (AW) in a population of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) maintained by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, Hunt, Texas. Six breeding pens, each with one male and 10 to 14 does selected at random, were used for 5 consecutive generations. Additionally, to minimize selection and maintain a broad genetic base, a new set of sires and as many new does as possible were used as breeders each generation. Frequently, an individual doe was used for 2 or 3 breeding seasons, but was assigned to different sires for each season. All deer were pedigreed by sire and dam and, except for birth weight, all measurements were obtained at 1.5 years of age. Heritabilities were estimated utilizing two different methods - (1) sire and within sire components of variance, and (2) regression of mean performance of male progeny on sire performance. Theoretically, these procedures estimate the amount of additive genetic variation, but give little or no indication of the importance of dominance and epistasis or maternal effects. Ranges in heritabilities for BW, WT, PT, MB, SP, BC and AW were 0.04-0.17, 0.58-0.64, 0.22-0.56, 0.49-0.70, 0.03-0.43, 0.80-0.89, and 0.71-0.86, respectively. Maternal effects appear to be important for BW, and dominance deviations may influence PT and SP. These intermediate to high heritabilities would suggest that substantial genetic progress is expected from individual selection if realistic selection differentials are generated.

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