Assessing losses of genetic diversity due to translocation: long-term case histories in Merriam's turkey (Meleagris gallopavo merriami)
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Translocation is a widely used tool in wildlife management, but populations established as a result of translocations may be subject to a range of genetic problems, including loss of genetic diversity and founder effects. The genetic impact of single translocation events can be difficult to assess because of complex management histories in translocated or source populations. Here we use molecular markers to assess the genetic impact of three well-documented translocation events, each occurring between 42 and 53 years ago and each originating from a native, extant source population that we also included in our study. Comparing translocated populations to their sources, we found genetic evidence of a recent bottleneck in all three translocated populations, including one which is now a very large, productive population. Based on our results, we recommend caution in (1) using short term census data to assess the long term success of a translocation and (2) conducting serial translocations (i.e., using translocated populations as the source for other translocations), which could exacerbate a genetic bottleneck. We also used the data on translocated populations to investigate the relative utility of three bottleneck detection methods. With this dataset, only assessment of the modal allele frequency distribution, described by Luikart et al. [Journal of Heredity, 89, 238–247 (1998)], provided evidence of a bottleneck in the absence of source population data.
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