Pedigrees, MHC and microsatellites: an integrated approach for genetic management of captive African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus)
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- Marsden, C.D., Verberkmoes, H., Thomas, R. et al. Conserv Genet (2013) 14: 171. doi:10.1007/s10592-012-0440-0
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Captive breeding programmes aim to provide an insurance against extinction in the wild and a source for re-introductions making it essential to minimise genetic threats, and maximise representation of wild adaptive genetic diversity. As such, genetic assessments of captive breeding programmes are increasingly common. However, these rarely include comprehensive comparisons with wild populations and typically neutral, rather than adaptive, genetic diversity is assayed. Moreover, genetic data are rarely integrated with studbook information, which enables the most robust assessments. Here we use the European captive African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) population to demonstrate the utility of this combined approach. Specifically, we combined studbook pedigree information with genetic assessments of captive and wild samples at both neutral markers and a locus thought to be important for adaptation (a gene at the Major Histocompatibility Complex, MHC). With these data we were able to evaluate founder origin and representation, as well as the distribution and origin of genetic variation within the captive population. We found discrepancies between diversity metrics derived from neutral and adaptive markers and pedigree versus genetic derived inbreeding estimates. Overall, however, we found a large proportion of genetic diversity from wild populations to be conserved in the captive population, much of which can be attributed to recent imports from outside of the European breeding programme. Nonetheless, we also found a high incidence of inbreeding and very skewed founder contributions. Based on these results, we proposed and implemented a genetic management plan to prevent further losses of diversity and reduce inbreeding.