POPULATION GENETIC STRUCTURE OF MOOSE (ALCES ALCES) OF SOUTH-CENTRAL ALASKA

Robert E. Wilson, Thomas J. McDonough, Perry S. Barboza, Sandra L. Talbot, Sean D. Farley

Abstract


The location of a population can influence its genetic structure and diversity by impacting the degree of isolation and connectivity to other populations. Populations at range margins are often thought to have less genetic variation and increased genetic structure, and a reduction in genetic diversity can have negative impacts on the health of a population. We explored the genetic diversity and connectivity between 3 peripheral populations of moose (Alces alces) with differing potential for connectivity to other areas within interior Alaska. Populations on the Kenai Peninsula and from the Anchorage region were found to be significantly differentiated (FST = 0.071, P < 0.0001) with lower levels of genetic diversity observed within the Kenai population. Bayesian analyses employing assignment methodologies uncovered little evidence of contemporary gene flow between Anchorage and Kenai, suggesting regional isolation. Although gene flow outside the peninsula is restricted, high levels of gene flow were detected within the Kenai that is explained by male-biased dispersal. Furthermore, gene flow estimates differed across time scales on the Kenai Peninsula which may have been influenced by demographic fluctuations correlated, at least in part, with habitat change.

 


Keywords


Population Genetic Structure; Genetic Diversity

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