Kinship analysis reveals low dispersal in a hog deer (Axis porcinus) population in Wilsons Promontory National Park, Australia

Hill, Erin, Murphy, Nicholas, Linacre, Adrian, Toop, Simon, and Strugnell, Jan M. (2023) Kinship analysis reveals low dispersal in a hog deer (Axis porcinus) population in Wilsons Promontory National Park, Australia. Wildlife Research, 50 (8-9). pp. 746-756.

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Context: A wild population of non-native hog deer has established in the Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia, and there is particular concern about its impact on native vegetation in Wilsons Promontory National Park (WPNP). Since 2015, there has been annual culling of hog deer at WPNP to reduce deer abundances and impacts.

Aims: The aims of this study were to use a kinship approach based on genotyping to assess contemporary dispersal of hog deer across WPNP, by identifying close kin, to determine whether dispersal of deer into culled sites from unculled sites may affect the long-term success of management there. Differences in the dispersal of male and female hog deer were also investigated.

Methods: In total, 91 hog deer tissue samples were collected across WPNP and surrounding sites. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers were sequenced, and a final dataset comprising 8275 SNPs was used for analysis. First-order, second-order, and intermediate relative pairs were identified, and the geographic distance between these pairs was assessed to determine inter-pair distances to infer dispersal. Spatial autocorrelation between male and female samples was evaluated to measure the effects of sex-biased dispersal.

Key results: Only seven second-order relative pairs were found across different sites, with a 30 km distance between the furthest pair observed. However, most inter-pair distances across sites were 5-10 km. Analyses of sex-biased dispersal showed that movement by deer was not strongly influenced by one sex.

Conclusions: Although hog deer in WPNP are genetically similar, most relatives that were sampled were not widely dispersed. This suggests that there is limited dispersal of hog deer across this park.

Implications: Recolonisation of hog deer at culled sites via dispersal is likely to be infrequent in WPNP. Kinship analysis provides an effective method of assessing contemporary dispersal and could be applied to other species to assess fine-scale movement across landscapes.

Item ID: 79530
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-5494
Keywords: Axis, Cervidae, dispersal, hog deer, introduced species, kinship, population control, sex-biased dispersal
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2024 00:13
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310509 Genomics @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410202 Biosecurity science and invasive species ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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