Population Genomics/Genetics of Endangered and Vulnerable Wildlife: The Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi) and the Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) AND THE ARABIAN ORYX (Oryx leucoryx)
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 11-May-2019
AbstractThe most straightforward contribution of genetics to conservation has been the use of neutral markers, such as microsatellite loci, to estimate evolutionary and demographic processes (e.g. loss of genetic diversity, increase in genetic structure, population bottlenecks, migration rates) occurring in endangered and vulnerable wildlife. To this extent, next-generation sequencing technologies have enabled scientists to examine thousands or even millions of neutral loci with relative ease and at low cost in non-model species. Unlike classic population genetics studies, genomics has emerged as a reliable field to study selection and the distribution of loci affecting fitness across the entire genome. In this study, I used genomics and classic population genetics approaches to understand and/or to predict the evolutionary consequences of introductions and reintroductions in wildlife, with implications for its management and conservation. First, I employed whole-genome sequences from Florida panthers and Texas pumas to assemble and annotate the genome of the puma. In this regard, I detected genes under positive selection that could be associated with inbreeding depression traits observed in the Florida panther (e.g. heart failure, cryptorchidism, spermatozoal defects, low testosterone levels, immune deficiencies). Second, I examined the evolutionary consequences of multiple introduction events in Florida panther mitochondrial genetic diversity. Finally, I used mitochondrial DNA and composite microsatellite data in order to develop a management strategy to reintroduce captive Arabian oryx into the wild.
Degree ProgramGraduate College