, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 869-878

Small effective population sizes of two remnant ocelot populations (Leopardus pardalis albescens) in the United States

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Abstract

Threatened populations are vulnerable to the effects of genetic drift and inbreeding, particularly when gene flow is low and the effective population size is small. Estimates of effective population size (N e ) provide important information on the status of endangered populations that have experienced severe fragmentation and serve as indicators of genetic viability. Genetic data from microsatellite loci were used to estimate N e for the 2 remaining populations of the endangered ocelot (Leopardus pardalis albescens) occurring in the United States. Several methods were used to calculate N e , resulting in estimates ranging from N e  = 8.0 (95% CI: 3.2–23.1) to 13.9 (95% CI: 7.7–25.1) for the population located at the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge in Cameron County, Texas. The ocelot population in Willacy County, Texas, had N e estimates of 2.9 (95% CI: 1.7–5.6) and 3.1 (95% CI: 1.9–13.5), respectively. Estimates of N e in both populations were below the critical value recommended for short-term viability.