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Tuesday, January 30 • 8:20am - 8:40am
UPLAND GAME BIRDS & POLLINATORS: Genetic Analysis of Sharp-tailed Grouse in East-central Minnesota Indicates High Genetic Diversity Remains After a Recent Population Bottleneck

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AUTHORS. A.J. Gregory*, Bowling Green State University; C. Roy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; E. Nelson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. Minnesota DNR recognizes two distinct management units of Sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus). Recent population declines in the East-Central Management Unit (EC) has led to speculation that the EC sharp-tailed grouse population may be experiencing diminishing returns in reproductive success due to inbreeding depression. Alternatively, others have suggested that declines are due to habitat loss or degradation. To evaluate relative support for these hypothesized mechanisms for EC population declines, we conducted a landscape genetic analysis to assess contemporary levels of genetic diversity and gene flow, and to test for a genetic bottleneck. Cooperating biologists collected feathers from lek sites and hunters submitted wing samples, which were analyzed at 15 microsatellite loci. Genetic diversity was high (HO=0.771), the inbreeding coefficient was low (FIS=0.017), and a significant excess in heterozygosity (P=0.005) was detected. Population clustering analysis indicated greatest support for three populations; however, mapping sample locations of individuals by assigned population cluster revealed panmixia of population clusters. In sum, our findings are consistent with a recent demographic compression or bottleneck, but the EC population still retains high genetic diversity. Therefore, inbreeding depression was not supported, and declines are more consistent with changes in habitat quantity or quality.     

Tuesday January 30, 2018 8:20am - 8:40am CST