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Conservation Genetics

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 191–201 | Cite as

Beyond the beneficial effects of translocations as an effective tool for the genetic restoration of isolated populations

  • Juan L. Bouzat
  • Jeff A. Johnson
  • John E. Toepfer
  • Scott A. Simpson
  • Terry L. Esker
  • Ronald L. Westemeier
Research Article

Abstract

Translocations are becoming increasingly popular as appropriate management strategies for the genetic restoration of endangered species and populations. Although a few studies have shown that the introduction of novel alleles has reversed the detrimental effects of inbreeding over the short-term (i.e., genetic rescue), it is not clear how effective such translocations are for both maintaining neutral variation that may be adaptive in the future (i.e., genetic restoration) and increasing population viability over the long-term. In addition, scientists have expressed concerns regarding the potential genetic swamping of locally adapted populations, which may eliminate significant components of genetic diversity through the replacement of the target population by the source individuals used for translocations. Here we show that bird translocations into a wild population of greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) in southeastern Illinois were effective in both removing detrimental variation associated with inbreeding depression as well as restoring neutral genetic variation to historical levels. Furthermore, we found that although translocations resulted in immediate increases in fitness, the demographic recovery and long-term viability of the population appears to be limited by the availability of suitable habitat. Our results demonstrate that although translocations can be effective management tools for the genetic restoration of wild populations on the verge of extinction, their long-term viability may not be guaranteed unless the initial conditions that led to most species declines (e.g., habitat loss) are reversed.

Keywords

Tympanuchus cupido Bottlenecks Genetic rescue Translocations 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Michael E. Soulé, L. Scott Mills, Phil Hedrick, Bob Wayne, Scott V. Edwards, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the manuscript, and Mike Morrow and Robert Gillespie for their assistance in trapping prairie-chickens for the 2003 Illinois sampling. We thank the following institutions for providing access to historical specimens for DNA analyses: American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY), Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, IL), Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (Berkeley, CA), National Museum of Natural History (Washington, D.C.), University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (Ann Arbor, MI), University of Kansas Natural History Museum, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, University of Missouri-Columbia, Illinois Natural History Survey (Champaign, IL), and Texas A&M University. Logistical and financial support for this research has been provided by Bowling Green State University, University of Michigan, Society of Tympanuchus Cupido Pinnatus, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources-Division of Natural Heritage, The Nature Conservancy, and Illinois Natural History Survey.

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Copyright information

© US Government 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan L. Bouzat
    • 1
  • Jeff A. Johnson
    • 2
  • John E. Toepfer
    • 3
  • Scott A. Simpson
    • 4
  • Terry L. Esker
    • 4
  • Ronald L. Westemeier
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of Michigan Museum of ZoologyAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Society of Tympanuchus Cupido PinnatusPloverUSA
  4. 4.Illinois Department of Natural ResourcesNewtonUSA
  5. 5.Illinois Natural History SurveyEffinghamUSA

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