WILDEBEEST MANAGEMENT: LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN HYBRID DETECTION

 

Paul Grobler

University of the Free State, Department of Genetics

 

Abstract: The black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) faces a serious threat of hybridization, since translocation has brought the species into contact with its congener, the blue wildebeest (C. taurinus). Hybridization between the species has probably occurred at numerous localities and a significant proportion of the national black wildebeest herd potentially carries a proportion of introgressed blue wildebeest genetic material. Until recently, a solution to this problem was hampered by a lack of funding, a lack of consensus among stakeholders and the lack of a suitable molecular and statistical framework for hybrid detection. Current work at the University of the Free State, the National Zoological Gardens and the University of Pretoria, funded by SANBI, is focussed on the development of a panel of molecular markers that are typical to each species, but also the identification of shared genetic characteristics in the two species. Research towards this goal includes existing and de novo microsatellite markers, as well as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). Statistical and management guidelines can to some extent be assisted by work on two well-known cases of extensive hybridization in the northern hemisphere, involving bison/domestic cattle (Bison bison/Bos taurus) and red deer/sika deer (Cervus elaphus/C. nippon). Ultimately, we aim to formulate a management strategy that will conserve C. gnou without repeating the bottleneck and loss of genetic diversity experienced by this species in the previous century.

 

Presentation Topic:

WILDEBEEST MANAGEMENT: LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN HYBRID DETECTION

Contact Mr Grobler:
Email Paul Grobler