Conservation Genetics

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 389–399 | Cite as

Genotypic and phenotypic consequences of reintroduction history in the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes)

  • Samantha M. Wisely
  • Rachel M. Santymire
  • Travis M. Livieri
  • Sara A. Mueting
  • JoGayle Howard
Research Article

Abstract

Population augmentation with translocated individuals has been shown to alleviate the effects of bottlenecks and drift. The first step to determine whether restoration for genetic considerations is warranted is to genetically monitor reintroduced populations and compare results to those from the source. To assess the need for genetic restoration, we evaluated genetic diversity and structure of reintroduced (n = 3) and captive populations of the endangered black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). We measured genotypic changes among populations using seven microsatellite markers and compared phenotypic changes with eight morphometric characters. Results indicated that for the population which rapidly grew post-reintroduction, genetic diversity was equivalent to the captive, source population. When growth languished, only the population that was augmented yearly maintained diversity. Without augmentation, allelic diversity declined precipitously and phenotypic changes were apparent. Ferrets from the genetically depaupertate population had smaller limbs and smaller overall body size than ferrets from the two populations with greater diversity. Population divergence (FST = 0.10 ± 0.01) was surprisingly high given the common source of populations. Thus, it appears that 5–10 years of isolation resulted in both genotypic divergence and phenotypic changes to populations. We recommend translocation of 30–40 captive individuals per annum to reintroduction sites which have not become established quickly. This approach will maximize the retention of genetic diversity, yet maintain the beneficial effects of local adaptation without being swamped by immigration.

Keywords

Genetic monitoring Genetic restoration Population bottleneck Reintroduction Translocation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samantha M. Wisely
    • 1
  • Rachel M. Santymire
    • 2
    • 3
  • Travis M. Livieri
    • 4
  • Sara A. Mueting
    • 1
  • JoGayle Howard
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Lincoln Park ZooChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Reproductive Science, Conservation & Research CenterSmithsonian’s National Zoological ParkFront RoyalUSA
  4. 4.Prairie Wildlife ResearchWellingtonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Reproductive SciencesSmithsonian’s National Zoological ParkWashingtonUSA

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