Low genetic variation in muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) from western Greenland using microsatellites

Authors

  • L.-E. Holm,

    1. Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre Foulum, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark,,
    2. Department of Ecology and Genetics, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Aarhus, Ny Munkegade, Building 540, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
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  • M. C. Forchhammer,

    1. Department of Ecology and Genetics, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Aarhus, Ny Munkegade, Building 540, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
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  • J. J. Boomsma

    1. Department of Ecology and Genetics, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Aarhus, Ny Munkegade, Building 540, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
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  • Lars-Erik Holm has research interests in the population genetics of Arctic ungulates and commercial livestock. He is currently employed at the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences while at the same time completing his PhD thesis at the University of Aarhus. Mads C. Forchhammer completed his PhD on the evolutionary ecology of muskoxen populations in Greenland in 1996, and is currently working on the effects of large-scale climatic fluctuation in the North Atlantic on ungulate populations. Jacobus J. Boomsma is associate professor in population biology at the University of Aarhus with research interests in mating system evolution, sex allocation, host–parasite (mutualist) coevolution and conservation.

L.-E. Holm, Fax: + 45 89 991300; E-mail: leh@genetics.sh.dk

Abstract

Muskoxen are large herbivores living in Arctic environments. Lack of genetic variation in allozymes has made it difficult to study the social and genetic structure of this species. In this study, we have tried to find polymorphic microsatellite loci using both cattle-derived microsatellite primers and primers developed from a genomic plasmid library of muskoxen. Only limited variation was found for both sets of microsatellite loci. We conclude that this consistent low genetic variation is probably due to demographic features of the muskoxen populations rather than to methodological constraints caused by the transfer of microsatellites between species.

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