Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Translocation of bighorn sheep in Arizona has positive genetic outcomes

Date:  March 6, 2019
Source:  University of Wyoming
Translocation is an important management tool that has been used for more than 50 years to increase bighorn sheep population numbers in Arizona and to restore herds to suitable habitat throughout their historical range. Yet, translocation also can alter the underlying genetic diversity and spatial structure of managed wildlife species in both beneficial and detrimental ways.
A University of Wyoming researcher led a seven-year study to evaluate the long-term impact of translocation actions on bighorn sheep. From 2005-2012, the research group characterized statewide genetic structure and diversity by using microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA data in 16 indigenous and translocated bighorn sheep populations in Arizona.
"Our study showed that it is possible to re-establish bighorn sheep populations without a reduction of gene diversity over a short period and without erosion of ancestral lineage," says Holly Ernest, a UW professor of wildlife genomics and disease ecology, and the Wyoming Excellence Chair in Disease Ecology in the Department of Veterinary Sciences and the Program in Ecology.
Ernest was the senior and corresponding author of a paper, titled "Genetic Outcomes of Translocation of Bighorn Sheep in Arizona," that was published today (March 6) in the Journal of Wildlife Management. The journal publishes manuscripts containing information from original research that contributes to basic wildlife science. Suitable topics include investigations into the biology and ecology of wildlife and their habitats that have direct or indirect implications for wildlife management and conservation.

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