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Data from: Complex problems need detailed solutions: harnessing multiple data types to inform genetic management in the wild

Citation

Grueber, Catherine E. et al. (2018), Data from: Complex problems need detailed solutions: harnessing multiple data types to inform genetic management in the wild, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.11ss226

Abstract

For bottlenecked populations of threatened species, supplementation often leads to improved population metrics (genetic rescue), provided that guidelines can be followed to avoid negative outcomes. In cases where no “ideal” source populations exist, or there are other complicating factors such as prevailing disease, the benefit of supplementation becomes uncertain. Bringing multiple data and analysis types together to plan genetic management activities can help. Here, we consider three populations of Tasmanian devil Sarcophilus harrisii as candidates for genetic rescue. Since 1996, devil populations have been severely impacted by devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), causing significant population decline and fragmentation. Like many threatened species, the key threatening process for devils cannot currently be fully mitigated, so species management requires a multifaceted approach. We examined diversity of 31 putatively neutral and 11 MHC-linked microsatellite loci of three remnant wild devil populations (one sampled at two time-points), alongside computational diversity projections, parameterised by field data from DFTD-present and DFTD-absent sites. Results showed that populations had low diversity, connectivity was poor, and diversity has likely decreased over the last decade. Stochastic simulations projected further diversity losses. For a given population size, the effects of DFTD on population demography (including earlier age at death and increased female productivity) did not impact diversity retention, which was largely driven by final population size. Population sizes ≥ 500 (depending on the number of founders) were necessary for maintaining diversity in otherwise unmanaged populations, even if DFTD is present. Models indicated that smaller populations could maintain diversity with ongoing immigration. Taken together, our results illustrate how multiple analysis types can be combined to address complex population genetic challenges.

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