Montana Conservation Science Institute

Missoula, MT, United States

Montana Conservation Science Institute

Missoula, MT, United States
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Kardos M.,University of Montana | Kardos M.,Uppsala University | Luikart G.,University of Montana | Bunch R.,CSIRO | And 7 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2015

The identification of genes influencing fitness is central to our understanding of the genetic basis of adaptation and how it shapes phenotypic variation in wild populations. Here, we used whole-genome resequencing of wild Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) to >50-fold coverage to identify 2.8 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and genomic regions bearing signatures of directional selection (i.e. selective sweeps). A comparison of SNP diversity between the X chromosome and the autosomes indicated that bighorn males had a dramatically reduced long-term effective population size compared to females. This probably reflects a long history of intense sexual selection mediated by male-male competition for mates. Selective sweep scans based on heterozygosity and nucleotide diversity revealed evidence for a selective sweep shared across multiple populations at RXFP2, a gene that strongly affects horn size in domestic ungulates. The massive horns carried by bighorn rams appear to have evolved in part via strong positive selection at RXFP2. We identified evidence for selection within individual populations at genes affecting early body growth and cellular response to hypoxia; however, these must be interpreted more cautiously as genetic drift is strong within local populations and may have caused false positives. These results represent a rare example of strong genomic signatures of selection identified at genes with known function in wild populations of a nonmodel species. Our results also showcase the value of reference genome assemblies from agricultural or model species for studies of the genomic basis of adaptation in closely related wild taxa. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Miller J.M.,University of Alberta | Malenfant R.M.,University of Alberta | David P.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | Davis C.S.,University of Alberta | And 4 more authors.
Heredity | Year: 2014

Heterozygosity-fitness correlations (HFCs) are often used to link individual genetic variation to differences in fitness. However, most studies examining HFCs find weak or no correlations. Here, we derive broad theoretical predictions about how many loci are needed to adequately measure genomic heterozygosity assuming different levels of identity disequilibrium (ID), a proxy for inbreeding. We then evaluate the expected ability to detect HFCs using an empirical data set of 200 microsatellites and 412 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genotyped in two populations of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), with different demographic histories. In both populations, heterozygosity was significantly correlated across marker types, although the strength of the correlation was weaker in a native population compared with one founded via translocation and later supplemented with additional individuals. Despite being bi-allelic, SNPs had similar correlations to genome-wide heterozygosity as microsatellites in both populations. For both marker types, this association became stronger and less variable as more markers were considered. Both populations had significant levels of ID; however, estimates were an order of magnitude lower in the native population. As with heterozygosity, SNPs performed similarly to microsatellites, and precision and accuracy of the estimates of ID increased as more loci were considered. Although dependent on the demographic history of the population considered, these results illustrate that genome-wide heterozygosity, and therefore HFCs, are best measured by a large number of markers, a feat now more realistically accomplished with SNPs than microsatellites. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Ezenwa V.O.,University of Montana | Hines A.M.,University of Montana | Hines A.M.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Archie E.A.,University of Montana | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2010

Lungworm infections are common among bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in North America, and the predominant species reported are Protostrongylus stilesi and P. rushi. The only records of another lungworm species, Muellerius capillaris, infecting bighorns come from South Dakota, USA. At the National Bison Range (NBR), Montana, USA we found that across six sampling periods, 100% of wild bighorn sheep surveyed were passing first-stage dorsal-spined larvae (DSL) which appeared to be consistent with M. capillaris. By contrast, only 39% or fewer sheep were passing Protostrongylus larvae. Using molecular techniques, we positively identified the DSL from the NBR bighorns as M. capillaris. This is the first definitive record of M. capillaris infection in a free-ranging bighorn sheep population outside of South Dakota. © Wildlife Disease Association 2010.


PubMed | University of Montana, Wildlife Disease Laboratory, Grand Teton National Park, Montana Conservation Science Institute and CSIRO
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Molecular ecology | Year: 2016

The identification of genes influencing fitness is central to our understanding of the genetic basis of adaptation and how it shapes phenotypic variation in wild populations. Here, we used whole-genome resequencing of wild Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) to >50-fold coverage to identify 2.8 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and genomic regions bearing signatures of directional selection (i.e. selective sweeps). A comparison of SNP diversity between the X chromosome and the autosomes indicated that bighorn males had a dramatically reduced long-term effective population size compared to females. This probably reflects a long history of intense sexual selection mediated by male-male competition for mates. Selective sweep scans based on heterozygosity and nucleotide diversity revealed evidence for a selective sweep shared across multiple populations at RXFP2, a gene that strongly affects horn size in domestic ungulates. The massive horns carried by bighorn rams appear to have evolved in part via strong positive selection at RXFP2. We identified evidence for selection within individual populations at genes affecting early body growth and cellular response to hypoxia; however, these must be interpreted more cautiously as genetic drift is strong within local populations and may have caused false positives. These results represent a rare example of strong genomic signatures of selection identified at genes with known function in wild populations of a nonmodel species. Our results also showcase the value of reference genome assemblies from agricultural or model species for studies of the genomic basis of adaptation in closely related wild taxa.


Miller J.M.,University of Alberta | Poissant J.,University of Alberta | Hogg J.T.,Montana Conservation Science Institute | Coltman D.W.,University of Alberta
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2012

Genetic rescue is a management intervention whereby a small population is supplemented with individuals from other populations in an attempt to reverse the effects of inbreeding and increased genetic load. One such rescue was recently documented in the population of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) within the National Bison Range wildlife refuge (Montana, USA). Here, we examine the locus-specific effects of rescue in this population using a newly developed genome-wide set of 195 microsatellite loci and first-generation linkage map. We found that the rate of introgression varied among loci and that 111 loci, 57% of those examined, deviated from patterns of neutral inheritance. The most common deviation was an excess of homozygous genotypes relative to neutral expectations, indicative of directional selection. As in previous study of this rescue, individuals with more introduced alleles had higher reproductive success and longevity. In addition, we found 30 loci, distributed throughout the genome, which seem to have individual effects on these life history traits. Although the potential for outbreeding depression is a major concern when translocating individuals between populations, we found no evidence of such effects in this population. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Poissant J.,University of Alberta | Davis C.S.,University of Alberta | Malenfant R.M.,University of Alberta | Hogg J.T.,Montana Conservation Science Institute | Coltman D.W.,University of Alberta
Heredity | Year: 2012

Dissecting the genetic architecture of fitness-related traits in wild populations is key to understanding evolution and the mechanisms maintaining adaptive genetic variation. We took advantage of a recently developed genetic linkage map and phenotypic information from wild pedigreed individuals from Ram Mountain, Alberta, Canada, to study the genetic architecture of ecologically important traits (horn volume, length, base circumference and body mass) in bighorn sheep. In addition to estimating sex-specific and cross-sex quantitative genetic parameters, we tested for the presence of quantitative trait loci (QTLs), colocalization of QTLs between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep, and sex × QTL interactions. All traits showed significant additive genetic variance and genetic correlations tended to be positive. Linkage analysis based on 241 microsatellite loci typed in 310 pedigreed animals resulted in no significant and five suggestive QTLs (four for horn dimension on chromosomes 1, 18 and 23, and one for body mass on chromosome 26) using genome-wide significance thresholds (Logarithm of odds (LOD) >3.31 and >1.88, respectively). We also confirmed the presence of a horn dimension QTL in bighorn sheep at the only position known to contain a similar QTL in domestic sheep (on chromosome 10 near the horns locus; nominal P<0.01) and highlighted a number of regions potentially containing weight-related QTLs in both species. As expected for sexually dimorphic traits involved in male-male combat, loci with sex-specific effects were detected. This study lays the foundation for future work on adaptive genetic variation and the evolutionary dynamics of sexually dimorphic traits in bighorn sheep. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Snyder P.W.,University of Georgia | Hogg J.T.,Montana Conservation Science Institute | Ezenwa V.O.,University of Georgia
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2015

Lungworms are important parasites of wildlife and host infection status is often evaluated using coprologic techniques, most commonly the Baermann method. Recently, the FLOTAC® has emerged as a new tool for diagnosing lungworm infections, and methodologic comparison studies in domestic species suggest that this method outperforms many other established techniques. We compared a modified FLOTAC with the beaker-modified (bm)–Baermann to evaluate the relative performance of the two techniques for counting lungworm larvae in bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) feces. Both methods generated equivalent larval counts and both were highly repeatable. The major difference between the two methods was that theFLOTAC was poorer at detecting mixed infections. The ultimate choice between using the FLOTACand bm-Baermann methods for quantifying lungworm larvae in wildlife studies may depend on the specific nature of the research questions being addressed, balanced by practical constraints. © Wildlife Disease Association 2015.


Poissant J.,University of Alberta | Hogg J.T.,Montana Conservation Science Institute | Davis C.S.,University of Alberta | Miller J.M.,University of Alberta | And 2 more authors.
BMC Genomics | Year: 2010

Background: The construction of genetic linkage maps in free-living populations is a promising tool for the study of evolution. However, such maps are rare because it is difficult to develop both wild pedigrees and corresponding sets of molecular markers that are sufficiently large. We took advantage of two long-term field studies of pedigreed individuals and genomic resources originally developed for domestic sheep (Ovis aries) to construct a linkage map for bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis. We then assessed variability in genomic structure and recombination rates between bighorn sheep populations and sheep species.Results: Bighorn sheep population-specific maps differed slightly in contiguity but were otherwise very similar in terms of genomic structure and recombination rates. The joint analysis of the two pedigrees resulted in a highly contiguous map composed of 247 microsatellite markers distributed along all 26 autosomes and the X chromosome. The map is estimated to cover about 84% of the bighorn sheep genome and contains 240 unique positions spanning a sex-averaged distance of 3051 cM with an average inter-marker distance of 14.3 cM. Marker synteny, order, sex-averaged interval lengths and sex-averaged total map lengths were all very similar between sheep species. However, in contrast to domestic sheep, but consistent with the usual pattern for a placental mammal, recombination rates in bighorn sheep were significantly greater in females than in males (~12% difference), resulting in an autosomal female map of 3166 cM and an autosomal male map of 2831 cM. Despite differing genome-wide patterns of heterochiasmy between the sheep species, sexual dimorphism in recombination rates was correlated between orthologous intervals.Conclusions: We have developed a first-generation bighorn sheep linkage map that will facilitate future studies of the genetic architecture of trait variation in this species. While domestication has been hypothesized to be responsible for the elevated mean recombination rate observed in domestic sheep, our results suggest that it is a characteristic of Ovis species. However, domestication may have played a role in altering patterns of heterochiasmy. Finally, we found that interval-specific patterns of sexual dimorphism were preserved among closely related Ovis species, possibly due to the conserved position of these intervals relative to the centromeres and telomeres. This study exemplifies how transferring genomic resources from domesticated species to close wild relative can benefit evolutionary ecologists while providing insights into the evolution of genomic structure and recombination rates of domesticated species. © 2010 Poissant et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Miller J.M.,University of Alberta | Poissant J.,University of Exeter | Malenfant R.M.,University of Alberta | Hogg J.T.,Montana Conservation Science Institute | Coltman D.W.,University of Alberta
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2015

Linkage disequilibrium (LD) is the nonrandom association of alleles at two markers. Patterns of LD have biological implications as well as practical ones when designing association studies or conservation programs aimed at identifying the genetic basis of fitness differences within and among populations. However, the temporal dynamics of LD in wild populations has received little empirical attention. In this study, we examined the overall extent of LD, the effect of sample size on the accuracy and precision of LD estimates, and the temporal dynamics of LD in two populations of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) with different demographic histories. Using over 200 microsatellite loci, we assessed two metrics of multi-allelic LD, D', and χ'2. We found that both populations exhibited high levels of LD, although the extent was much shorter in a native population than one that was founded via translocation, experienced a prolonged bottleneck post founding, followed by recent admixture. In addition, we observed significant variation in LD in relation to the sample size used, with small sample sizes leading to depressed estimates of the extent of LD but inflated estimates of background levels of LD. In contrast, there was not much variation in LD among yearly cross-sections within either population once sample size was accounted for. Lack of pronounced interannual variability suggests that researchers may not have to worry about interannual variation when estimating LD in a population and can instead focus on obtaining the largest sample size possible. © 2015 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Coltman D.W.,University of Alberta | Hogg J.T.,Montana Conservation Science Institute | Miller J.M.,University of Alberta
Molecular Ecology Resources | Year: 2013

This article documents the public availability of approximately 15 000 polymorphic SNP loci for the bighorn sheep Ovis canadensis. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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