Record Details

Norton, J. E.;Ashley, M. V.
Genetic variability and population differentiation in captive Baird's tapirs (Tapirus bairdii)
Zoo Biology
Journal Article
microsatellites Tapiridae F-statistics genetic variability captive breeding Tapir Bibliography
The objectives of this study were to assess the level of genetic variability and population differentiation within captive populations of an endangered large mammal, Baird?s tapir (Tapirus bairdii). We genotyped 37 captive animals from North American (NA) and Central American (CA) zoos and conservation ranches using six polymorphic microsatellite loci. Standard indices of genetic variability (allelic richness and diversity, and heterozygosity) were estimated and compared between captive populations, and between captive and wild population samples. In addition, we evaluated levels of population differentiation using Weir and Cockerham?s version of Wright?s F-statistics. The results indicate that the NA and CA captive populations of Baird?s tapirs have retained levels of genetic variability similar to that measured in a wild population. However, inbreeding coefficients estimated from the molecular data indicate that the CA captive population is at increased risk of losing genetic variability due to inbreeding. Despite this, estimated levels of population differentiation indicate limited divergence of the CA captive population from the wild population. Careful management appears to have kept inbreeding coefficients low in the NA captive population; however, population differentiation levels indicate that the NA population has experienced increased divergence from wild populations due to a founder effect and isolation. Based on these results, we conclude that intermittent exchanges of Baird?s tapirs between the NA and CA captive populations will benefit both populations by increasing genetic variability and effective population size, while reducing inbreeding and divergence from wild populations.