One size does not fit all: Genetic considerations from the Missouri elk restoration

Ellen M. Pero, Donovan A. Bell, Zachary L. Robinson, M. Colter Chitwood, Aaron M. Hildreth, Leah K. Berkman, Barbara J. Keller, Jason A. Sumners, Lonnie P. Hansen, Jason L. Isabelle, Lori S. Eggert, Chelsea L. Titus, Joshua J. Millspaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Population restoration is an inherently costly conservation practice typically reliant on animal translocations. There are many approaches to translocation and consideration is paid to understanding how various translocation models influence restoration success. Translocation strategies are often designed to meet site-specific objectives, minimize cost, and maximize success. We investigated genetic diversity retention associated with the low-founder, multi-release, single admixed stock translocation model of the Missouri elk (Cervus canadensis) restoration in 2011–2013. We further estimated effective population size and projected future losses in genetic diversity if the restored Missouri elk herd is maintained at the population size objective with no immigration from neighboring states. We observed relatively high levels of genetic diversity retention as evidenced by minimal losses in allelic richness and expected heterozygosity. Our projections indicated 90% genetic diversity retention within the Missouri population for roughly 130 years. Where number of progeny or source stocks are limited by resource or disease considerations, use of a relatively low-founder, single admixed source may enable retention of genetic variation, while minimizing costs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere598
JournalConservation Science and Practice
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

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