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American Bison Restoration as a Model for the Propagation of African Wildlife Populations . James Derr College of Veterinary Medicine Texas A&M University. An Overview of Today’s Seminar. A short discussion of our 10 years of genetics research with American bison.
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College of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M University
Dr. Todd Ward
Dr. Robert Schnabel
Dr. Natalie Halbert
Dr. Chris Seabury
Dr. Joe Templeton
Dr. Don Davis
Dr. Loren Skow
Dr. Bhanu Chowdhary
Dr. Jim Womack
Dr. William Grant
Dr. Ron Heibert
Dr. Peter Gogan
Dr. David Hunter
Federal and private bison managers, owners and biologist
Texas A&M University
Texas Agriculture Experiment Station
The Nature Conservancy
US Department of the Interior
- National Parks Service
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
Canadian Park Service
National Science Foundation
Texas Parks and Wildlife
Private bison ownersThe Bison Conservation Genetics Program at Texas A&M University
For many, conservation biology is often considered a “crisis discipline” because many of the species that are of interest are critically threatened in some way.
Clearly, the recovery of North American bison is one of the best documented success stories in conservation biology.
About 10 years ago we started a NSF funded study of bison conservation genetics. The objectives were to uncover why the bison recovery was so successful and to develop models for the conservation of other large mammals; specifically large African wildlife species.
However, modern bison appear to be relatively free of the inbreeding depression and other fitness related problems usually associated with severe population bottlenecks. Why?
James McKay / William Alloway Herd - Canada
Walking Coyote (Pablo / Allard Herd) - Montana
Frederick Dupree - South Dakota
Charles (Buffalo) Jones - Kansas
Charles Goodnight - Texas
(Some of these herds were used to produce a few hybrids between bison and beef cattle to “improve” disease resistance and possible energy conversion in beef cattle.)
(The hybridization experiments worked…. improving beef cattle ideas did not.)
In addition, a few “wild” animals (22 - 25) remained in Yellowstone National Park.
Historic bison range:
1600s – 1700s
Charles “Buffalo” Jones
*From Coder 1975, derived from Hornaday
Antelope Island State Park, UT
Henry Mountains, UT
Custer State Park, SD
Finney Game Refuge, KS
Maxwell Game Refuge, KS
Texas State Bison Herd, TX
Santa Catalina Island, CA
Nature Conservancy herds
More than 100 private bison herds
Wichita Mtns. NWR
Ft. Niobrara NWR
National Bison Range NWR
Neal Smith NWR
Sully’s Hill National Preserve
Theodore Roosevelt NP
Wind Cave NP
Grand Teton NP
Wood Buffalo NP (Can.)
Elk island NP (Can.)
Mackenzie Sanctuary (Can.)Public Bison Populations Sampled for Genetic Studies
To date, archived over 15,000 bison DNA samples
Cull (selectively remove) animals from herds
Manipulate sex ratios
Deal with disease issues
In some cases they are economically important
This sounds a lot like many African plains game and big game wildlife species…Why is this level of technology needed to help manage bison populations?
Some bison just look different?
So, why have bison recovered, with no or few apparent genetic consequences from this major population crash, when most other species, faced with this degree of insult, seem to suffer through long-term problems and/or became extinct?
There are multiple explanations:
Now is the time to expand the use of genomics technologies African big game wildlife species
Opportunities for using genetic technologies to insure healthy and robust African wildlife populations that thrive and provide sustain trophy hunting into the future
Also, for genetically important animals, sterile tissue samples placed in media as a secondary source of DNA and possibly future nuclear transplantation
(as discussed yesterday by Dr. Paul Bartels from the National Zoological Gardens in South Africa)
Please complete all of the fields possible or applicable
Species/common name ____________________ Sex ______ Age ______ Date/time ___________
Country _______________ State/Providence _________________ Nearest city ________________
Name of park/property ___________________________ Specimen field number ______________
GPS position ________________ Collector/Hunter name _________________________________
Collector/hunter email address ____ ___________________________________ Method _________
Pharmaceutical and dose _________________________________________ Digital photo(s) _____
Professional hunter/outfitters name/contact information ___________________________________
Blood: FTA card ______ Other blood sampled ____________
Tissue: Hair sample _____
Sterile tissue sample in media (skin) ______ (lung) ______ other _______________________
Pregnant female ____ Abort ____Sex ____Collection of/from fetus _____
Total length of body (tip of nose to tip of tail) _______________ Head length _______________
Tail length ____________ Height at shoulder ___________ Teeth wear/condition ____________
Horns/Tusk: length right _________ left _________ Rhino: front __________ back _________
Spread-max ________ At t ip _________ Weight: live weight ________ field dressed ________
Overall impression of body condition ________________________________________________
Kidney fat (none – s mall – large - excessive) Back fat (none – small – large - excessive)
External parasites (Type & Site) ____________________________________________________
Internal parasites (Type & Site) _____________________________________________________
Additional Remarks/Concerns/Information _____________________________________________
FTA cards are a safe and fast media
for saving DNA samples from
Must setup and allow to dry.
After they are dry they can be kept at room
temperature for decades and will still provide excellent DNA.
All of these agencies and regulations can be dealt with but
it is time consuming and in some cases expensive.
Transfer the application of this technology to existing laboratories in Africa such a such as those at the Faculty of Veterinary Science Onderstepoort, SA, the National Zoological Gardens or the Hans Hoheisen laboratories in Kruger National Park
In the event that it is absolutely required to import DNA samples, these permits can and will be obtained.However, one solution could be to use established collection facilities in Africa for genetic samples.
Initial Studies. Concentrating on two or three important African species, lions (Pantheraleo), buffaloes (Synceruscaffe), and possibly white (Ceretotherium simum) and black rhinos (Diceros bivornis) we propose to develop the primary resources and methodology to allow for modern molecular genetic investigation for these and other related species.The African Wildlife Genome based research at Texas A&M University
High resolution microsatellite markers, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) based on microarray technologies and mitochondrial DNA sequencing and haplotyping.
Dr. Norman Borlaug
Winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize for Peace and fellow Texas A&M Professor