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Peninsular Bighorn Sheep: Population Status, Genetic Connectivity, and Disease Risk

Presented by: Lisa Nordstrom, Ph.D. – Associate Director, Applied Animal Ecology
Mathias Tobler, Ph.D. – Scientist, Behavioral Ecology
Asako Y. Navarro, M.S., Senior Research Technician
Josephine Braun, Ph.D. – Scientist, Wildlife Disease Laboratories,
San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research initiated a bi-national research project on Peninsular bighorn sheep to determine their status in the Sierra Juarez, Baja California, Mexico and their connectivity with the populations in the US. 

Using multiple techniques, including both ground and aerial surveys, camera trapping, and GPS tracking, we were able to identify the main movement corridor across the international border and to document cross-border movements by several individuals. 

Fecal pellets were also collected in the field to assess genetic connectivity and structure in Peninsular bighorn sheep across the U.S.-Mexico border. Noninvasive sampling has become an increasingly valuable tool in conservation genetics; however, poor yield and quality often associated with noninvasive DNA make it a challenging source for genetic studies. In our lab, we optimized and validated the use of fecal DNA for genetic analyses of bighorn populations.  In addition, a preliminary pathogen screening was performed to assess potential disease risk. 

The results from these studies will help in the long-term conservation and management of this species.

This and all other lectures in the Seminar Series will be held at the Beckman Center Meeting Room, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (next to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido) unless otherwise noted.

Address to the Beckman Center: 15600 San Pasqual Valley Road
Escondido, California 92027.

 

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