, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 525-533,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 25 Dec 2011

Inferring the ancestry of African wild dogs that returned to the Serengeti-Mara

Abstract

An endangered population of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) disappeared from the Serengeti-Mara area in 1991. The reasons for the extinction are not well understood, but disease was implicated in the disappearance. In 2001, wild dogs naturally re-established themselves in the region. We conducted genetic profiling on samples collected prior and subsequent to this event, as well as samples from three geographically close populations, to determine the potential source of colonisers. Contrary to expectations, we found no evidence of re-colonisation from these nearby wild dog populations. Rather, our analyses suggest that the re-established animals are primarily derived from the same genetic population as the pre-extinction animals, indicating that wild dogs are likely to have persisted in the Serengeti-Mara after 1991. We also detected some migrants that could be derived from genetically distinct populations outside the recovery area. Overall, we did not detect a decline in genetic diversity at either neutral microsatellites or major histocompatibility complex loci, indicating that the supposed disappearance of wild dogs in the Serengeti-Mara did not substantially impact genetic variation of the population.