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CONSERVATION GENOMICS IN SPECIES REINTRODUCTIONS: THE ASIATIC WILD ASS EQUUS HEMIONUS IN ISRAEL

Zecherle, L (2020) CONSERVATION GENOMICS IN SPECIES REINTRODUCTIONS: THE ASIATIC WILD ASS EQUUS HEMIONUS IN ISRAEL. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

Conservation reintroductions are a frequently used management tool for the recovery of endangered species. However, many reintroductions fail to establish viable, self-sustaining populations. There are a multitude of factors that can impact the success of a reintroduction programme and population genetic aspects have been identified as an essential factor in the long-term persistence of reintroduced populations. However, due to a general lack of detailed long-term data sets, little is known about how different reintroduction strategies affect the genetic viability of a population and the long-term reintroduction success. In this thesis I apply high-resolution genomic tools to investigate the reintroduction of the Asiatic wild ass Equus hemionus in Israel. This case study provides a unique opportunity to investigate genetic impacts of conservation reintroductions, as it offers a long-term data set and a rare reintroduction protocol: founder individuals of the population were sourced from two different subspecies. I recovered a genome-wide set of genetic markers for the species using high-throughput sequencing techniques. Analyses based on this data set show that the populations display high levels of subspecies admixture and that population genetic parameters indicate a relatively high genetic variability compared with other reintroduced E. hemionus populations. These findings suggest that the highly controversial practice of subspecies admixture may be beneficial to reintroduction success in certain scenarios. Furthermore, I apply tools and methods from landscape ecology to uncover that habitat characteristics impact individual habitat selection but not genetic relatedness across the landscape. These findings suggest that current landscape configurations pose no barrier to gene flow in the reintroduced population. The presented results provide new insights on the population in Israel, relevant for its continued management. Furthermore, the outcome of this study has broader implications for conservation reintroductions in general.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conservation; genetics; genomics; reintroductions; hybridisation; landscape genetics; Equus hemionus
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2020 19:01
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2020 19:02
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00013612
Supervisors: Brown, R, Nichols, H, Bar-David, S and Templeton, A
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13612

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