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Genetic consequences of trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) reintroductions

January 1, 2011

Relocation programs are often initiated to restore threatened species to previously occupied portions of their range. A primary challenge of restoration efforts is to translocate individuals in a way that prevents loss of genetic diversity and decreases differentiation relative to source populations-a challenge that becomes increasingly difficult when remnant populations of the species are already genetically depauperate. Trumpeter swans were previously extirpated in the entire eastern half of their range. Physical translocations of birds over the last 70 years have restored the species to portions of its historical range. Despite the long history of management, there has been little monitoring of the genetic outcomes of these restoration attempts. We assessed the consequences of this reintroduction program by comparing patterns of genetic variation at 17 microsatellite loci across four restoration flocks (three wild-released, one captive) and their source populations. We found that a wild-released population established from a single source displayed a trend toward reduced genetic diversity relative to and significant genetic differentiation from its source population, though small founder population effects may also explain this pattern. Wild-released flocks restored from multiple populations maintained source levels of genetic variation and lacked significant differentiation from at least one of their sources. Further, the flock originating from a single source revealed significantly lower levels of genetic variation than those established from multiple sources. The distribution of genetic variation in the captive flock was similar to its source. While the case of trumpeter swans provides evidence that restorations from multiple versus single source populations may better preserve natural levels of genetic diversity, more studies are needed to understand the general applicability of this management strategy. ?? 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA).

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Genetic consequences of trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) reintroductions
DOI 10.1007/s10592-010-0137-1
Authors F.A. Ransler, T.W. Quinn, S.J. Oyler-McCance
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Genetics
Index ID 70034153
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse