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Journal of Applied Genetics 44(2), 2003, pp. 175-183

Inbreeding effects on lifetime in David’s deer (Elaphurus davidianus, Milne Edwards 1866) population


Abstract: The current population of David’s deer is derived from 18 individuals kept in Woburn Abbey Park (England). The aim of this study is to evaluate the inbreeding rate as well as inbreeding depression in longevity. The recorded data have been extracted from the International Species Information System (ISIS). Complete records of 2042 individuals (born in 1947-2000) from zoological gardens were studied. The following four subsets of data were formed: all individuals, individuals over 31 days of life, sexually mature individuals (above 450 days old) and individuals with identified sex. Two models (including inbreeding coefficient as linear and quadratic covariables, respectively) have been employed. These computations were performed by the use of the DFREML package programs. This study has shown that average levels of inbreeding in the David’s deer are relatively low (no exceed 0.028). The highest level of inbreeding was registered for mature individuals. In general, the average inbreeding on length of life was small for the above mentioned the inbreeding level (from 24 days to 77 days). However, on the basis estimated regression coefficients it can be suggested that an increase of inbreeding could lead to a drastic reduction of longevity. Relationships between inbreeding level and longevity are usually better described by quadratic partial regression (except for the oldest individuals). On the other hand, from a statistical point of view, a relatively low inbreeding level of the population studied is not suitable to derive the slope of the dependencies.

Key words: captive population, David’s deer, inbreeding depression, inbreeding rate, phenotypic trend.

Correspondence: T. SZWACZKOWSKI, Department of Genetics and Animal Breeding, August Cieszkowski Agricultural University of Poznan, ul. Wolynska 33, 60-637 Poznan, Poland, e-mail:

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