Can captive populations function as sources of genetic variation for reintroductions into the wild? A case study of the Arabian oryx from the Phoenix Zoo and the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, Jordan

Conservation Genetics
By: , and 

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Abstract

The Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) historically ranged across the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring countries until its extirpation in 1972. In 1963–1964 a captive breeding program for this species was started at the Phoenix Zoo (PHX); it ultimately consisted of 11 animals that became known as the ‘World Herd’. In 19781979 a wild population was established at the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve (SWR), Jordan, with eight descendants from the World Herd and three individuals from Qatar. We described the mtDNA and nuclear genetic diversity and structure of PHX and SWR. We also determined the long-term demographic and genetic viability of these populations under different reciprocal translocation scenarios. PHX displayed a greater number of mtDNA haplotypes (n = 4) than SWR (n = 2). Additionally, PHX and SWR presented nuclear genetic diversities of N¯AN¯A = 2.88 vs. 2.75, H¯OH¯O = 0.469 vs. 0.387, and H¯EH¯E = 0.501 vs. 0.421, respectively. Although these populations showed no signs of inbreeding (F¯ISF¯IS ≈ 0), they were highly differentiated (GSTGST′′ = 0.580; P < 0.001). Migration between PHX and SWR (Nm = 1, 4, and 8 individuals/generation) increased their genetic diversity in the short-term and substantially reduced the probability of extinction in PHX during 25 generations. Under such scenarios, maximum genetic diversities were achieved in the first generations before the effects of genetic drift became predominant. Although captive populations can function as sources of genetic variation for reintroduction programs, we recommend promoting mutual and continuous gene flow with wild populations to ensure the long-term survival of this species.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Can captive populations function as sources of genetic variation for reintroductions into the wild? A case study of the Arabian oryx from the Phoenix Zoo and the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, Jordan
Series title Conservation Genetics
DOI 10.1007/s10592-016-0850-5
Volume 17
Issue 5
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 11 p.
First page 1145
Last page 1155
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N