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Genetic structure of captive and free-ranging okapi (Okapia johnstoni) with implications for management.

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Breeding programs for endangered species increasingly
use molecular genetics to inform their management
strategies. Molecular approaches can be useful for
investigating relatedness, resolving pedigree uncertainties,
and for estimating genetic diversity in captive and wild
populations. Genetic data can also be used to evaluate the
representation of wild population genomes within captive
population gene-pools. Maintaining a captive population
that is genetically representative of its wild counterpart
offers a means of conserving the original evolutionary
potential of a species. Okapi, an even-toed ungulate, endemic
to the Democratic Republic of Congo, have recently
been reclassified as Endangered by the IUCN. We carried
out a genetic assessment of the ex-situ okapi (Okapia
johnstoni) population, alongside an investigation into the
genetic structure of wild populations across their geographic
range. We found that while levels of nuclear (12 microsatellite loci) genetic variation in the wild, founder
and captive okapi populations were similar, mitochondrial
(833 bp of Cyt b, CR, tRNA-Thr and tRNA-Pro) variation
within captive okapi was considerably reduced compared
to the wild, with 16 % lower haplotype diversity. Further,
both nuclear and mitochondrial alleles present in captivity
provided only partial representation of those present in the
wild. Thirty mitochondrial haplotypes found in the wild
were not found in captivity, and two haplotypes found in
captivity were not found in the wild, and the patterns of
genetic variation at microsatellite loci in our captive samples
were considerably different to those of the wild samples.
Our study highlights the importance of genetic
characterisation of captive populations, even for wellmanaged
ex-situ breeding programs with detailed studbooks.
We recommend that the captive US population
should be further genetically characterised to guide management
of translocations between European and US captive
populations.
Tijdschrift: Conservation Genetics Resources
ISSN: 1877-7252
Aantal pagina's: 12
Trefwoorden:Genetica en ontwikkelingsbiologie, Ecologie en toegepaste ecologie