Low neutral genetic diversity in isolated Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations in northwest Wyoming

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This article contains an analysis of 16 microstatellite loci from 300 Greater Sage-Grouse individuals to assess genetic structure among populations in Wyoming and southeast Montana.

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14 p.

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Schulwitz, Sarah; Bedrosian, Bryan & Johnson, Jeff A. October 15, 2014.

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This article contains an analysis of 16 microstatellite loci from 300 Greater Sage-Grouse individuals to assess genetic structure among populations in Wyoming and southeast Montana.

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14 p.

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Abstract: Identifying small, isolated populations is a conservation priority, not only because isolation may result in negative fitness consequences, but these populations may also harbor unique genetic diversity. The Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a widespread obligate species of the sagebrush biome in western North America that has experienced range-wide contraction over the past century. To prevent local extirpation, efforts have been made to identify isolated populations. Here, we analyzed 16 microsatellite loci from 300 Greater Sage-Grouse individuals to assess genetic structure among populations in Wyoming and southeast Montana, particularly with the Jackson Hole and Gros Ventre populations in northwest Wyoming. Four genetic clusters were observed with Pinedale (central-west) and Casper (central) populations forming a cluster, Powder River Basin (central-north) and southeast Montana forming a second cluster, and both Jackson Hole and Gros Ventre forming distinct population clusters. All but the Jackson Hole and Gros Ventre genetic differentiation correspond with designated ecoregions and possessed an isolation-by-distance pattern of differentiation. Both Jackson Hole and Gros Ventre were identified as separate populations with asymmetrical dispersal into Gros Ventre. Both populations also possessed significantly reduced genetic diversity and low effective number of breeders (Nb). Because both populations are surrounded by extensive forested mountain ranges nearly devoid of sagebrush habitat, the Jackson Hole and Gros Ventre populations may have long been isolated from other Greater Sage-Grouse populations; however, only a few alleles were unique to the Jackson Hole and Gros Ventre populations. The observed genetic differentiation was largely due to allele frequency differences rather than private alleles, suggesting some historical gene flow. More work is needed to determine the timing of isolation and whether managers should focus on maintaining and increasing adequate sagebrush habitat, allowing the population to increase in size, or population supplementation to increase genetic diversity.

Resumen: La identificación de poblaciones pequeñas aisladas es una prioridad de conservación, no solo porque el asilamiento puede resultar en consecuencias negativas para la adecuación biológica, sino también porque estas poblaciones pueden albergar una diversidad genética única. Centrocercus urophasianus es una especie obligada ampliamente distribuida del bioma de Artemisa en el oeste de América del Norte que ha experimentado una contracción a lo largo de toda su área de distribución en el siglo pasado. Para prevenir la extirpación local, se han hecho esfuerzos para identificar las poblaciones aisladas. Aquí analizamos 16 loci microsatelitales de 300 individuos de C. urophasianus para evaluar la estructura genética entre poblaciones en Wyoming y el sudeste de Montana, particularmente en las poblaciones de Jackson Hole y Gros Ventre en el noroeste de Wyoming. Se observaron cuatro clústers genéticos, con las poblaciones de Pinedale (centro-oeste) y Casper (centro) formando un clúster, la Cuenca del Río Powder (centro-norte) y sudeste de Montana formando un segundo clúster, y Jackson Hole y Gros Ventre formando clústers poblacionales distintos. Toda la diferenciación genética exceptuando a Jackson Hole y Gros Ventre se corresponde con las ecorregiones designadas y presenta un patrón de diferenciación de aislamiento-por-distancia. Jackson Hole y Gros Ventre fueron identificadas como poblaciones separadas con una dispersión asimétrica hacia Gros Ventre. Ambas poblaciones también presentaron una diversidad genética significativamente reducida y un bajo número efectivo de criadores (Nb). Debido a que ambas poblaciones están rodeadas por grandes cadenas montañosos con bosque casi desprovistas de hábitat de Artemisa, las poblaciones de Jackson Hole y Gros Ventre pueden haber estado aisladas por largo tiempo de otras poblaciones de C. urophasianus; sin embrago, solo unos pocos alelos fueron exclusivos de las poblaciones de Jackson Hole y Gros Ventre. La diferenciación genética observada se debió mayormente a las diferencias en la frecuencia de alelos más que a los alelos exclusivos, sugiriendo algún flujo génico histórico. Se necesita más trabajo para determinar el tiempo de aislamiento y si los gestores deberían enfocarse en mantener y aumentar el hábitat adecuado de Artemisa, permitiendo que las poblaciones aumenten en tamaño, o en suplementar a la población para aumentar la diversidad genética.

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  • The Condor: Ornithological Applications, 2014. Chicago, IL: The American Ornithological Society.

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  • Publication Title: The Condor: Ornithological Applications
  • Volume: 116
  • Pages: 560-573
  • Peer Reviewed: Yes

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  • March 26, 2014

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  • July 25, 2014

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  • October 15, 2014

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  • Aug. 29, 2017, 9:38 a.m.

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Schulwitz, Sarah; Bedrosian, Bryan & Johnson, Jeff A. Low neutral genetic diversity in isolated Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations in northwest Wyoming, article, October 15, 2014; Chicago, Illinois. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc990957/: accessed April 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.