Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Pennsylvania
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Pennsylvania Project

Landscape genetics of white-tailed deer to assess population structure for surveillance of chronic wasting disease

July 2014 - June 2017


Participating Agencies

  • Pennsylvania Game Commission

Research on surveillance strategies, that consider demographic and environmental factors, is lacking in most states CWD has not been found. Developing surveillance strategies to maximize efficiency of sampling white-tailed deer has been recommended but requires knowledge of deer behavior, movements, and spatial connectivity of populations. Landscape genetics can provide the necessary framework to understand landscape features, dispersal characteristics of deer, and transmission and spread of CWD through assessment of population structure throughout a region.

Research Publications Publication Date
Pearce, D.L., J.E. Edson, C.S. Jennelle, and W.D. Walter. 2024. Evaluation of DNA yield from various tissue and sampling sources for use in single nucleotide polymorphism panels. Scientific Reports 14, 11340. | Abstract May 2024
Miller, W.M., C.M. Miller-Butterworth, D.R. Diefenbach, and W.D. Walter. 2020. Assessment of spatial genetic structure to identify populations at risk for infection of an emerging epizootic disease. Ecology and Evolution 10(9):3977–3990; | Download
May 2020
Miller, W.L., J. Edson, P. Pietrandrea, C. Miller-Butterworth, and W. David Walter. 2019. Identification and evaluation of a core microsatellite panel for use in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). BMC Genetics 20:49. June 2019
Miller, W.L. and W.D. Walter. 2020. Can genetic assignment tests provide insight on the influence of captive egression on the epizootiology of chronic wasting disease? Evolutionary Applications. 13:715–726; | Publisher Website March 2020
Miller, W.L. and W. D. Walter. 2019. Spatial heterogeneity of prion gene polymorphisms in an area recently infected by chronic wasting disease. Prion 13: 65-76. | Abstract February 2019
Edson, J., J. Brown, W.L. Miller, and W. D. Walter. 2021. Comparison of sample types from white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) for DNA extraction and analyses. Scientific Reports 11, 10003. | Abstract May 2021
Presentations Presentation Date
Fameli, A., C.S. Rosenberry, K.L. Schuler, M.J. Tonkovich, J.E. Edson, and W.D. Walter. 2024. Large-scale assessment of genetic structure of white-tailed deer: applications to genetic assignment tests. Joint Meeting of The Pennsylvania Chapter of Wildlife Society and the Pennsylvania Biological Survey, State College, PA, 22-23 March 2024. March 2024
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Miller, W.L. 2018. The genetic structure of white-tailed deer to evaluate the potential epizootiology of chronic wasting disease in an area of recent emergence. The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 212 pp. December 2018