Conservation Genetics

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1261–1268 | Cite as

Deciphering translocations from relicts in Baranof Island mountain goats: is an endemic genetic lineage at risk?

  • Aaron B. A. ShaferEmail author
  • Kevin S. White
  • Steeve D. Côté
  • David W. Coltman
Research Article


Human-mediated movement of wildlife is a common practice in North America. Some translocations have occurred where local populations were thought to be extinct or simply not present. In Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago, mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) were not considered indigenous and were introduced to Baranof Island in 1923. However, a range-wide survey using microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA revealed a distinct genetic subpopulation endemic to the island. In this study, we attempted to clarify the evolutionary history of the mountain goats on Baranof Island by examining sequence variation in the Y chromosome. We first screened five regions of the Y chromosome in a subset of mountain goats from across their native range. We detected a single polymorphic site in the SRY promoter, and subsequently sequenced this gene in 100 mountain goats. A unique Y chromosome polymorphism was restricted to Baranof Island and an area near Haines, Alaska, and not detected in the presumed source population. An island-to-mainland dispersal scenario from a cryptic refugial population during the retreat of the Cordilleran ice-sheet would account for this distribution. Overall, these data support the hypothesis that a glacial relict population of mountain goats was present on the island prior to introduction. Based on a combination of mitochondrial, microsatellite, and Y chromosome data, we recommend recognizing Baranof Island mountain goats as an evolutionary significant unit.


Mountain goat Baranof Island Glacial relict Iamen Alexander Archipelago 



This work was supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery grants to DWC and SDC, and several grants from the Alberta Conservation Association. ABAS was supported by a NSERC PGS scholarship and an Alberta Ingenuity Award. Thanks to all those who provided samples (listed in Shafer et al. 2011). Special thanks to Dee Longenbaugh of Juneau, Alaska for her help in gathering historical documents. Thanks to Kitty LaBounty, Kent Bovee, and Teri Rofkar for their interest in this work and hospitality in Sitka. Alaska Outdoors Forum provided important links to information on Baranof Island. Two reviewers provided insightful comments on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron B. A. Shafer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kevin S. White
    • 2
  • Steeve D. Côté
    • 3
  • David W. Coltman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, CW 405University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Division of Wildlife ConservationAlaska Department of Fish and GameJuneauUSA
  3. 3.Département de Biologie and Centre for Northern StudiesUniversité LavalQuebecCanada

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