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Genome-wide SNP analysis of three moose subspecies at the southern range limit in the contiguous United States

October 8, 2021

Genome-wide evaluations of genetic diversity and population structure are important for informing management and conservation of trailing-edge populations. North American moose (Alces alces) are declining along portions of the southern edge of their range due to disease, species interactions, and marginal habitat, all of which may be exacerbated by climate change. We employed a genotyping by sequencing (GBS) approach in an effort to collect baseline information on the genetic variation of moose inhabiting the species’ southern range periphery in the contiguous United States. We identified 1920 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 155 moose representing three subspecies from five states: A. a. americana (New Hampshire), A. a. andersoni (Minnesota), and A. a. shirasi (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming). Molecular analyses supported three geographically isolated clusters, congruent with currently recognized subspecies. Additionally, while moderately low genetic diversity was observed, there was little evidence of inbreeding. Results also indicated > 20% shared ancestry proportions between A. a. shirasi samples from northern Montana and A. a. andersoni samples from Minnesota, indicating a putative hybrid zone warranting further investigation. GBS has proven to be a simple and effective method for genome-wide SNP discovery in moose and provides robust data for informing herd management and conservation priorities. With increasing disease, predation, and climate related pressure on range edge moose populations in the United States, the use of SNP data to identify gene flow between subspecies may prove a powerful tool for moose management and recovery, particularly if hybrid moose are more able to adapt.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Genome-wide SNP analysis of three moose subspecies at the southern range limit in the contiguous United States
DOI 10.1007/s10592-021-01402-w
Authors Jason Ferrante, Chase H. Smith, Laura Thompson, Margaret Hunter
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Genetics
Series Number
Index ID 70230488
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center