Title

Comparative Genetic Diversity of Captive-Born Gorillas

Presenter Information

Noah Simons
Steven Wagner
Joseph Lorenz

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 271

Start Date

17-5-2012

End Date

17-5-2012

Abstract

Genetic management of captive western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) populations represents an important component to the long-term conservation priorities of the species. Wild populations of western lowland gorillas are facing dramatically declining numbers as a result of habitat destruction, fragmentation, diseases (e.g. Ebola) and illegal bushmeat trade. While the captive collection of gorillas in North America began over 100 years ago with imported wild individuals from Africa, there have been no new wild gorillas added since coming under protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1975. In addition, they have been designated as critically endangered since 2007. We genotyped 28 individuals from the North American captive gorilla collection at 11 autosomal microsatellite loci in order to compare levels of genetic diversity to wild populations. Captive gorillas had significantly higher levels of expected heterozygosity and effective alleles than the wild population of Cross River gorillas (z=2.56, P=0.011; z=2.73, P=0.006, respectively). These results were unexpected because captive populations usually have a subset of genetic diversity of wild populations. This work was supported by NSF BCS0938969.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Steve Wagner

Additional Mentoring Department

Biological Sciences

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May 17th, 1:50 PM May 17th, 2:10 PM

Comparative Genetic Diversity of Captive-Born Gorillas

SURC 271

Genetic management of captive western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) populations represents an important component to the long-term conservation priorities of the species. Wild populations of western lowland gorillas are facing dramatically declining numbers as a result of habitat destruction, fragmentation, diseases (e.g. Ebola) and illegal bushmeat trade. While the captive collection of gorillas in North America began over 100 years ago with imported wild individuals from Africa, there have been no new wild gorillas added since coming under protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1975. In addition, they have been designated as critically endangered since 2007. We genotyped 28 individuals from the North American captive gorilla collection at 11 autosomal microsatellite loci in order to compare levels of genetic diversity to wild populations. Captive gorillas had significantly higher levels of expected heterozygosity and effective alleles than the wild population of Cross River gorillas (z=2.56, P=0.011; z=2.73, P=0.006, respectively). These results were unexpected because captive populations usually have a subset of genetic diversity of wild populations. This work was supported by NSF BCS0938969.