Date of Award

4-19-2010

Document Type

Thesis open access

Department

Biology

Abstract

Captive breeding of individuals to augment or reestablish a wild population requires the maintenance of maximum possible genetic variation to reflect the genetic variation present in the original wild population and reduce the occurrence of genetic drift or inbreeding in the captive population. Critically threatened addra gazelles (Nanger dama ruficollis) have been maintained in a captive breeding program since 1969 (10-15 generations) with no introduction of genetic material beyond the original 22 founders, of which only 8 have recorded descendents in the current population. Results from this study show a strong relationship between infant mortality and inbreeding, and a substantial increase in infant mortality over the first 20 years of the breeding program. In addition, molecular measures of inbreeding were correlated to various historical scenarios and suggest that more founders may have contributed to the population than expected based on pedigree data alone. A genetic sampling of all individuals in the population may be the only way to identify the most genetically distinct individuals in the population, and the best option for maintaining future genetic diversity.

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