Establishing genetic and physiological baselines for the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus).

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The black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) has experienced dramatic declines over much of its historical range due to habitat loss, plague, poisonings, and shootings. Many populations now occur as isolated genetic relicts. A multiple locus genetic profile was obtained using microsatellite analyses of six polymorphic nucleotide repeats from 319 black-tailed prairie dogs collected from 16 colonies throughout the state of Texas. This assessment revealed that existing populations have sufficient variation at all six loci to verify the usefulness of this approach as a primary genetic tool in conservation and preservation. The data reveals regional-dependent frequency patterns as well as support ... continued below

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Biggs, Cindy Dawn May 2007.

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  • Biggs, Cindy Dawn

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The black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) has experienced dramatic declines over much of its historical range due to habitat loss, plague, poisonings, and shootings. Many populations now occur as isolated genetic relicts. A multiple locus genetic profile was obtained using microsatellite analyses of six polymorphic nucleotide repeats from 319 black-tailed prairie dogs collected from 16 colonies throughout the state of Texas. This assessment revealed that existing populations have sufficient variation at all six loci to verify the usefulness of this approach as a primary genetic tool in conservation and preservation. The data reveals regional-dependent frequency patterns as well as support for founder/bottleneck effects for several of the 16 sites. Although the prairie dog population in Texas as a whole may appear genetically diverse, considerable genetic divergence has already occurred among the subpopulations (FST = 0.164). Isolation by distance is supported by genic differentiation analysis (P < 0.001) and pairwise correlation analysis between genetic distance and geographic distance (P < 0.001). Prairie dogs from six (COC, LUBA, LUBC, LUBD, LUBE, and TAR) of the original 16 sites have been relocated or exterminated, or were in the process of being relocated. Results indicated the following colonies (COT, DAL, HOW, and HUD) are of sufficient size and possess ample genetic diversity to be characterized as candidate foundation populations for future preservation efforts. The proximity of small colonies (< 20 hectares) such as HEMB, LUBB, and PEC, to other colonies should be examined to determine if they are isolated or part of a metapopulation. Colonies (HAR, HEMA, and SCH) with low genetic diversity would be ideal candidates for supplementation. Alternatively, these colonies could be relocated or blended with other similar but genetically distinct colonies. Baselines for healthy, pet prairie dog hematology and blood chemistries were also established. Results signify that data gathered from pet prairie dog blood analyses should be referenced against hematology and blood chemistry baselines established using pet prairie dog subjects.

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  • May 2007

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  • Sept. 28, 2007, 9:49 p.m.

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  • Jan. 21, 2014, 3:44 p.m.

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Biggs, Cindy Dawn. Establishing genetic and physiological baselines for the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)., dissertation, May 2007; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3705/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .