This study examined population genetics of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Strawberry Valley, Utah located in the north-central part of the state. The Strawberry Valley population of sage-grouse experienced a severe population decline with estimates of abundance in 1998 less than 5% (~150 individuals) of similar estimates from the 1930s (>3,000 individuals). Given the population decline and reduced genetic diversity, recovery team partners translocated sage-grouse from four different populations into Strawberry Valley over 6 years (2003-2008). Translocations have been used as a strategy to increase both population size and genetic diversity in wildlife populations. We assessed whether genetic diversity increased following the translocation of sage-grouse into Strawberry Valley by looking at both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA indices. We observed an overall increase of 16 microsatellite alleles across the 15 loci studied (x̅ =1.04 alleles per locus increase, SE ± 0.25). Haplotype diversity increased from 4 to 5. Levels of genetic diversity increased for both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (16% and 25% increases for allelic richness and haplotype diversity, respectively). These results show that translocations of greater sage grouse into a wild population can be an effective tool to increase not only population size but also genetic diversity.Second, we studied fitness-related traits and related them to genetic diversity indices in a population of greater sage-grouse in Strawberry Valley, Utah from 2005 to 2013. We captured 93 sage-grouse in Strawberry Valley and fitted them with a radio collar and drew and preserved blood. We monitored sage-grouse weekly, throughout each year. From blood, we extracted and amplified DNA with 15 microsatellite loci. We determined genetic diversity as multilocus heterozygosity and mean d2. To determine if there was a relationship between genetic diversity and survival, we used known-fate models in Program MARK. We also determined if there was a relationship between genetic diversity measures and nest initiation, nest success, clutch size, and number of eggs hatched using generalized linear models where reproductive measures were modeled as a function of genetic diversity. We found no significant relationship between mean d2 and microsatellite heterozygosity with measures of survival or reproductive fitness. Overall, these results suggest that the often-reported strong heterozygosity-fitness correlations detected in small, inbred populations do not reflect a general phenomenon of increasing individual survival and reproductive fitness with increasing heterozygosity.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



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Centrocercus urophasianus, greater sage-grouse, genetic diversity, translocation, heterozygosity-fitness correlation, genetic diversity, microsatellites, mean d2