Desert bighorn sheep: Changes in genetic variation over time and the impact of merging populations

Philip W. Hedrick, John D. Wehausen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Founder effects, genetic bottlenecks, and genetic drift in general can lead to low levels of genetic diversity, which can influence the persistence of populations. We examine genetic variation in two populations of desert bighorn sheep Ovis canadensis from New Mexico and Mexico to measure change over time and evaluate the impact of introducing individuals from one population into the other. Over about three generations, the amount of genetic variation in the New Mexico population increased. In contrast, over about two generations the amount of genetic variation in the Mexican population decreased by a great extent compared with an estimate from another Mexican population from which it is primarily descended. The potential reasons for these changes are discussed. In addition, although both populations have low genetic variation, introduction of Mexican rams into the New Mexico population might increase the amount of genetic variation in the New Mexico population. Overall, it appears that management to increase genetic variation might require substantial detailed monitoring and evaluation of ancestry from the different sources and fitness components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014

Keywords

  • Effective population size
  • Genetic drift
  • Genetic rescue
  • Heterozygosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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