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Evaluating spatial overlap and relatedness of white-tailed deer in a chronic wasting disease management zone

January 1, 2014

Wildlife disease transmission, at a local scale, can occur from interactions between infected and susceptible conspecifics or from a contaminated environment. Thus, the degree of spatial overlap and rate of contact among deer is likely to impact both direct and indirect transmission of infectious diseases such chronic wasting disease (CWD) or bovine tuberculosis. We identified a strong relationship between degree of spatial overlap (volume of intersection) and genetic relatedness for female white-tailed deer in Wisconsin’s area of highest CWD prevalence. We used volume of intersection as a surrogate for contact rates between deer and concluded that related deer are more likely to have contact, which may drive disease transmission dynamics. In addition, we found that age of deer influences overlap, with fawns exhibiting the highest degree of overlap with other deer. Our results further support the finding that female social groups have higher contact among related deer which can result in transmission of infectious diseases. We suggest that control of large social groups comprised of closely related deer may be an effective strategy in slowing the transmission of infectious pathogens, and CWD in particular.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2013
Title Evaluating spatial overlap and relatedness of white-tailed deer in a chronic wasting disease management zone
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0056568
Authors Michael D. Samuel, Seth B. Magle, Timothy R. Van Deelen, Stacie J. Robinson, Nancy E. Mathews
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title PLoS ONE
Series Number
Index ID 70173515
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown