The study was conducted to identify the phenotypic variation between local quail populations in three agro-ecological zones (AEZs) of Ghana. A total of 540 quails (180 males and 360 females) were involved in the study. In all, five morphometric traits: body weight (BW), body length (BL), shank length (SL), body girth (BG), and wing length (WL) were used for the investigation. The data collected were subjected to analysis of variance as well as canonical discriminant analysis using Minitab19 software. It was revealed that sex had no significant (p>0.05) effect on morphometric traits measured except BW. Agro-ecological zone however, influenced all morphometric traits. The BW of local quails in the transitional zone (218.32g) was significantly (p<0.05) heaviest, followed by those in the Semi-deciduous forest (211.66g) and then Coastal Savanna (187.68g). Furthermore, it was deduced from the canonical discriminant analysis that the most vital trait for discriminating among the populations was BW. The Coastal Savanna had the local quail population with the highest similarity (71.7%); implying that quails within this AEZ may have come from related sources with similar genetic identity while the Semi-deciduous Forest had the lowest (12.2%) similarity, which could be due to the fact that the birds may have come from different sources. The largest Mahalanobis distance (D2) was found between the Coastal Savanna and the Semi-deciduous forest (2.46) and therefore, an inter-breeding program could be designed for quails selected from these two AEZs. Further studies could consider the molecular characterization of local quail populations within the three AEZs to provide additional information for decision making in designing of appropriate breed improvement scheme for quails.
quails, discriminant analysis, morphometric traits, agro-ecological zone, Mahalanobis distance, Coturnix coturnix
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