Natural populations of many species are increasingly impacted by human activities. Perturbations are particularly pronunced for large ungulates due in part to sport and commercial harvest, to reductions and fragmentation of native habitat, and as the result of reintroductions. These perturbations affect population size, sex and age composition, and population breeding structure, and as a consequence affect the levels and partitioning of genetic variation. Three case histories highlighting long-term ecological genetic research on mule deer Odocoileus hemionus (Rafinesque, 1817), white-tailed deer O. virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780), and Alpine ibex Capra i. ibex Linnaeus, 1758 are presented. Joint examinations of population ecological and genetic data from several populations of each species reveal: (1) that populations are not in genetic equilibrium, but that allele frequencies and heterozygosity change dramatically over time and among cohorts produced in successive years, (2) populations are genetically structured over short and large geographic distances reflecting local breeding structure and patterns of gene flow, respectively; however, this structure is quite dynamic over time, due in part to population exploitation, and (3) restocking programs are often undertaken with small numbers of founding individuals resulting in dramatic declines in levels of genetic variability and increasing levels of genetic differentiation among populations due to genetic drift. Genetic characteristics have and will continue to provide valuable indirect sources of information relating enviromental and human perturbations to changes in population processes.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Conservation genetics of managed ungulate populations|
|Series title||Acta Theriologica|
|Publisher||Polska Akademia Nauk|
|Contributing office(s)||Alaska Science Center|