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Demographic history of the Punjab urial and implications for its management

Arshad Bajwa, Amna, Shehzad, Wasim, Islam, Saher, Imran, Muhmmad, Ashraf, Kamran, Khan, Arman, Zahoor, Muhammad Yasir, Rashid, Muhammad Imran, Khan, Waseem Ahmad, Reham, Habib Ur and Orozco Ter Wengel, Pablo ORCID: 2023. Demographic history of the Punjab urial and implications for its management. Journal of Wildlife Management 87 (6) , e22426. 10.1002/jwmg.22426

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The Punjab urial (Ovis vignei punjabiensis) is endemic to Northern Punjab, Pakistan, and is categorized as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. The urial population has declined by 30% over the last 3 generations. We used non-invasive fecal samples to identify individuals and estimate population size of Punjab urial in the Kalabagh Game Reserve, Pakistan. We genotyped samples using 12 microsatellite markers to assess genetic variation, population structure, and demographic changes. Microsatellite analysis revealed high levels of genetic variation in urials in terms of expected and observed heterozygosity and allelic diversity. The population structure of the Punjab urial in the Kalabagh Game Reserve, based solely on microsatellite variation using Bayesian clustering, indicated 3 different clusters in the reserve. Results revealed that the urial population may be facing inbreeding pressure because its ancestral effective population size has declined from between 20,000 and 50,000 to ≤1,000 animals today. This reduction has partly occurred because of a bottleneck that occurred about 10,000 years ago. Results also indicate that 1 urial population cluster has the signature of a bottleneck, which may be due to population isolation. The 3 urial clusters are small and broadly dispersed in a large territory, meaning they could be extirpated without any opportunity for natural re-population through dispersion. The results of our study support a management strategy that encourages maintaining connectivity between urial localities within the Kalabagh Game Reserve, increased diversity so the effective population size may recover from the historical decline, and the use of data generated here as a baseline of urial genetic diversity in the reserve for monitoring diversity over the long term.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0022-541X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 January 2023
Date of Acceptance: 22 December 2022
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2023 16:38

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