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Integrating microsatellite and pedigree analyses to facilitate the captive management of the endangered Mississippi sandhill crane (Grus canadensis pulla)


  • Grant sponsor: University of New Orleans, Louisiana State University, The Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species.

Correspondence to: Jessica R. Henkel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Tulane University New Orleans Louisiana


The minimization of kinship in captive populations is usually achieved through the use of pedigree information. However, pedigree knowledge alone is not sufficient if pedigree information is missing, questionable, or when the founders of the captive population are related to one another. If this is the case, higher levels of inbreeding and lower levels of genetic diversity may be present in a captive population than those calculated by pedigree analyses alone. In this study, the genetic status of the critically endangered Mississippi sandhill crane (MSC) (Grus canadensis pulla) was analyzed using studbook data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managed captive breeding program as well as microsatellite DNA data. These analyses provided information on shared founder genotypes, allowing for refined analysis of genetic variation in the population, and the development of a new DNA-based studbook pedigree that will assist in the genetic management of the MSC population. Zoo Biol 31:322–335, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.