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CONFERENCE SCHEDULE UPDATES & CHANGES: As a result of the prolonged government shutdown, we experienced a number of cancellations and changes to the schedule. Cancellations and changes are listed here (as of January 26, 2019). 
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Tuesday, January 29 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
(CANCELLED) (P23) Conserving Yukon Caribou: Use of Genetics to Inform Herd Assignment and Conservation Designations

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AUTHORS. My H. Hoang, Khoa T. Nguyen, Dominic H. Saidu, Karen H. Mager – Earlham College

ABSTRACT. The Yukon Territories, Canada is home to multiple caribou herds with overlapping ranges and great variation in size and migratory behavior. While many populations have been declining, others are stable, increasing, or not yet assessed. Many smalll herds’ ranges overlap with the territories of large or increasing herds. Recent conservation efforts in Canada rely heavily on ecotype designation, which can group the threatened herds with stable and increasing herds. A herd’s designatable unit can influence the conservation activities for a particular herd, regardless of its population trend. Given such challenges, the use of genetic tools to differentiate between caribou herds is crucial for contributing to conservation assessment. Previous literature has begun to characterize these herds using a population genetics approach; however, a more comprehensive study with increased sample sizes and number of loci would increase confidence in results. Therefore, our research goals are: 1) to distinguish Yukon caribou herds based on genetic patterns; 2) to construct a reliable genetic assignment method for herd identification of unknown captured caribou and 3) to compare Alaskan and Canadian caribou. Here, we extracted DNA from more than 150 samples of three specimen types: whole blood, fecal pellets, and dried blood on filter paper, and amplified them using PCR at 18 microsatellite loci. These data were combined with an existing dataset of 655 Alaskan caribou. Our ongoing research is using the STRUCTURE clustering approach and pairwise Jost’s D, along with other tools, to determine the genetic population structure within and among herds. This research will help wildlife managers to determine which designatable unit each caribou herd should belong to, especially the Fortymile and Nelchina herds which are yet to be classified. It will also aid wildlife managers faced with unknown harvest in determining whether genetic assignment is a viable approach.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 6:00pm - 9:00pm EST
  Poster, Conservation Biology