Small populations, specifically those that are isolated from others, are more prone to extinction than larger inter-connected populations. The risks that these small isolated populations face include loss of genetic diversity due to founder effects and inbreeding due to population bottlenecks, as well as demographic uncertainty due to fluctuating fecundity and mortality rates and impacts of external environmental factors. Ex situ populations, including those managed as conservation breeding programs with species recovery aims, as well as those that do not have reintroduction goals but are managed for long term population sustainability, suffer from the same extinction risks as small and isolated natural populations. Using three separate avian species which have different life histories and population structures, I investigated impacts of multiple genetic and demographic management strategies on these ex situ populations. I examined the use of molecular genetic datasets including microsatellites and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to determine their utility for reconstructing pedigrees, examining individual relatedness within populations, and compared results of measuring genetic diversity through theoretical methods verses those obtained from a molecular dataset. These methods can then ultimately be applied to improve future management including improving studbook datasets and to measure actual loss of genetic diversity. I also used analytical strategies including population viability analysis to determine how management practices influence demographic parameters and determine the future probability of population extinction. The genetic and demographic analyses of both the historic management of an ex situ population, and its current status, are a first step in hypothesizing the potential directions for future management and understanding the likelihood of survival of an ex situ population.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Conservation Biology; Integrative Biology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Ferrie, Gina, "Using Molecular Genetic and Demographic Tools to Improve Management of Ex Situ Avian Populations" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5709.