IAB Research Project Description

Estimating Abundance of Sitka Black-Tailed Deer Using Genetic Tags

Deer in southeastern Alaska cannot be censused by traditional survey methods because they inhabit dense habitat, yet knowledge of population size and trends is important for proper management. For the last 25 years, managers have monitored population trends by conducting pellet-group surveys in the spring but that index can only detect large changes in abundance and cannot be converted to an estimate of deer numbers. We are conducting a capture-mark-recapture population estimate in areas of Prince of Wales Island to estimate deer numbers. Genetic fingerprints of deer are developed by harvesting DNA from the surface of fecal pellets deposited on trails; those fingerprints serve as genetic tags for the mark-recapture estimator. Our results will represent the first statistically robust estimate of deer population size in the region.

Project Funding

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
IAB Project #162

Media Contact

Marie Thoms
Communications/Web Manager
Institute of Arctic Biology
302A Irving I
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
email: methoms@alaska.edu
phone: 907.474.7412