Understanding population genetic structure and levels of genetic variation is critical for the conservation and management of imperiled populations, especially when reintroductions are planned. We used restriction-site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing to study the genetic diversity and evolutionary relationships of the endangered Amargosa vole and other closely related desert-dwelling California voles. Specifically, we sought to determine how Amargosa voles are related to other California voles, how genetic variation is partitioned among subpopulations in wild Amargosa voles, and how much genetic variation is captured within a captive insurance colony of Amargosa voles. Our multilocus nuclear dataset provides strong evidence that Amargosa voles are part of a northern clade of California voles. Amargosa voles have highly reduced genetic variation relative to other California voles, but do exhibit some sub-structure among sampled marshes. Captive Amargosa voles capture approximately half of the total genetic variation present in the wild Amargosa vole populations. We discuss the management implications of our findings in light of reintroductions planned for Amargosa voles. Our study highlights the utility of reduced representation genomic approaches, like RADseq, to resolve relationships among small populations that are difficult to study with traditional markers due to low genetic variation and few individuals left in the wild.
- Captive breeding programs
- Endangered species
- Population structure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics