Applying Landscape Genomics to Infer CWD Transmission Corridors and Inform Management Activities in Western Kentucky and Tennessee.

Grants and Contracts Details


Submitting PI: Matthew Springer, Ph.D. Department of Forestry and Natural Resources Project Summary: Applying landscape genomics to infer CWD transmission corridors and inform management activities in western Kentucky and Tennessee White-tailed deer positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) were detected in northwestern Tennessee within 12 km of the border of Kentucky during the summer of 2021. Consequently, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) activated their CWD response plan, which included the establishment of a surveillance zone in western Kentucky along the Tennessee border and mandatory collection of tissue samples during the 2021 hunting season. Despite increased surveillance, CWD was not detected in Kentucky. Unfortunately, white-tailed deer population parameters, movement data, and genetic population structure that could help inform CWD management is lacking within this now high-risk region. To ensure KDFWR conducts adequate risk-based surveillance and responds with appropriate management actions once CWD is identified, this project, in partnership with University of Kentucky and Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA), will gather 570 genetic samples from white-tailed deer within the 5-county CWD surveillance zone in Kentucky, 9 Kentucky counties adjacent to that zone, and 5 counties within Tennessee that are either CWD-positive counties or along the state border. The objectives of this study are to develop and integrate a genome-wide dataset with landscape resistance modeling to estimate the influence of landscape features on the population genetic structure of white-tailed deer in western Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee so that we may delineate corridors for gene flow between Tennessee and Kentucky populations. These corridors are likely CWD transmission pathways and identifying them will aid in the agencies’ abilities to implement additional focused surveillance and management. By utilizing the recent understanding of the impacts of PRNP variants on CWD susceptibility, we will also assess the spatial heterogeneity of PRNP polymorphisms in Kentucky to determine how high-susceptibility genotypes are distributed across the landscape and to identify populations that are high-risk for CWD transmission.
Effective start/end date10/21/22 → 6/30/24


  • KY Department of Fish and Wildlife: $196,106.00


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