Genomic consequences of genetic rescue in an insular population of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)


Joshua M. Miller, Fax: (780) 492 9234; E-mail:


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.