Conservation Genetics

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 211–224 | Cite as

Feral pig population structuring in the rangelands of eastern Australia: applications for designing adaptive management units

  • Brendan D. CowledEmail author
  • Jaclyn Aldenhoven
  • Inakwu O. A. Odeh
  • Tom Garrett
  • Chris Moran
  • Steven J. Lapidge
Research Article


Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) are an invasive species in Australia. Their negative impact on conservation values has been demonstrated, and they are controlled in many areas in the rangelands of Australia. However, they are usually controlled over small, often ad hoc management units (MUs), and previous research has revealed that these MUs can be inadequate. Understanding feral pig population structuring can aid in the design of appropriate MUs. This study documents an approach to improving MUs for feral pig control in the rangelands of Australia. Feral pigs from a 500,000 km2 region were genotyped with 13 polymorphic markers. Genetic analyses were used to identify population structure. Identified sub-populations were then related to geographical and environmental gradients with geographical information systems, regression analysis and with canonical correspondence analysis. Five sub-populations were identified. These were moderately differentiated, with relatively high-migration rates. Two sub-populations in drier, lower elevation areas overlapped, due to extensive migration, probably along the large, inland rivers and flood plains. Sub-populations in higher rainfall environments appeared less likely to migrate. Sub-population differentiation was also dependant on distance, indicating isolation by distance was present. A case study applying an adaptive MU to a previously controlled area is presented. Generally, however, MUs for feral pig control for natural resource protection and endemic disease eradication in the rangelands should take into account geographical size, but also geographic features, especially major rivers in low-rainfall areas.


Feral pigs Population structure Optimal control Management units Wildlife endemic disease management 



This project was funded by the NHT through the NFACP (Commonwealth Government Bureau of Rural Sciences) and a Meat and Livestock Australia Scholarship to the corresponding author. Thanks to the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre for additional support. Thanks to Peter Spencer for advice on sampling, the many hunters (especially Alan Brady) for contributing samples, the QPWS for access to Welford National Park, Tony McManus and the Clyde Agricultural Co. for station access, Steve Sarre for comments on an earlier manuscript, and the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and Qld DNRM for geographic and environmental data. The Qld DNRM Pest Animal Ethics Committee and the NSW DPI AEC approved research for associated animal use in which samples were collected.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brendan D. Cowled
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Jaclyn Aldenhoven
    • 2
  • Inakwu O. A. Odeh
    • 3
  • Tom Garrett
    • 4
  • Chris Moran
    • 2
  • Steven J. Lapidge
    • 1
  1. 1.Invasive Animals Cooperative Research CentreUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Advanced Technologies in Animal Genetics and Reproduction (Reprogen), Faculty of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural ResourcesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Queensland Macropod & Wild Game Harvesters Assoc IncAmbyAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and ForestryOffice of the Chief Veterinary OfficerCanberraAustralia

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