REDUCED GENETIC DIVERSITY IN TWO INTRODUCED AND ISOLATED MOOSE POPULATIONS IN ALASKA

Kris J Hundertmark

Abstract


I examined indices of genetic diversity in 2 isolated moose (Alces alces) populations in Alaska that were founded by low numbers of individuals to determine effects of founding and infer whether subsequent gene flow has occurred with surrounding moose populations. Kalgin Island is a small, predator-free island in Cook Inlet that was founded by 6 moose (3 females) in the late 1950s; its population has since undergone dramatic fluctuations. Berners Bay is an isolated population along the coast of southeastern Alaska that was founded by 21 calves introduced in 1958-1960. Genetic attributes of those populations were compared to a population in Yukon Flats in central Alaska that served as an outbred control. Indices from 11 microsatellite markers indicated substantial effects of founding and subsequent isolation. Heterozygosity and allelic diversity, both of which are reduced by genetic bottlenecks, were significantly lower in the introduced populations than the Yukon Flats population. Kalgin Island diversity was significantly lower than that for Berners Bay, and was likely due to the smaller founding size and subsequent population fluctuations. Neither introduced population exhibited evidence of gene flow from surrounding populations. Managers should consider the isolation of those populations when assessing risks to population viability and crafting management strategies.

Keywords


Alaska; Alces alces; bottleneck; gene flow; insular; introduced population; moose

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