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Tuesday, January 30 • 4:40pm - 5:00pm
SMALL MAMMALS: Utilizing Non-invasive Techniques to Determine Genetic Variation and Demographics of Snowshoe Hare in Michigan

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AUTHORS. Genelle Uhrig, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Eric Clark, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Inland Fish and Wildlife Department; Emily Latch, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

ABSTRACT. In traditional capture-mark-recapture demographic studies, much effort is placed on trapping animals, marking, and then releasing them for subsequent recapture. This approach has many challenges, including coping with trap-happy or trap-averse animals and the amount of time and effort put into baiting and setting traps. We can circumvent these challenges by using some part of the animal that is naturally shed in the environment (e.g. fecal matter, fur, or feathers) to identify individuals with genetic techniques. Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) are a good candidate for this non-invasive sampling method as it is feasible to genetically identify individuals using DNA from a single fecal pellet. Our study aims to assess the demographic and genetic characteristics of declining snowshoe hare in the Hiawatha National Forest (Eastern portion) located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Population declines are often attributed to climate change and the occurrence of environmental mismatch, in which snowshoe hare pelage does not match the surrounding environment and hares are easily seen by predators. As populations along the southern edge of a range are likely affected first, it is within these areas we predict genetic variation will be greatly impacted. Fecal pellets (n=269) were collected across 7 sites and genotyped at 10 microsatellite markers. Individuals were identified and density, genetic diversity, and patterns of genetic structure and variation among sites were estimated. This information is vital to inform the management and conservation of snowshoe hare populations in decline along the species' southern range.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 4:40pm - 5:00pm CST