Evaluating the genome-wide impacts of species translocations: the greater prairie-chicken as a case study

Samantha L.R. Capel, Juan L. Bouzat, Julian M. Catchen, Jeff A. Johnson, Peter O. Dunn, Ken N. Paige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A variety of conservation management strategies have been developed to address rapid, anthropogenically-driven biodiversity loss. The translocation of individuals from viable populations to those experiencing significant decline is one such strategy to increase genetic diversity and avoid extirpation, yet efficacy of this strategy has rarely been examined in detail utilizing genomic data. Here, we employ a conservation icon, the greater prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus), as a case study to demonstrate how genome-wide SNPs derived from RADseq offer the ability to assess translocation success with respect to the genomic aspects of genetic restoration, encompassing (1) the alleviation of inbreeding (2) the restoration of evolutionary potential, and (3) the maintenance of local variation. Genome-wide diversity estimates calculated from 356,778 SNPs demonstrate that translocations rescued the Illinois population from severe inbreeding and lack of genetic diversity, restoring variation to levels comparable to the three non-bottlenecked source populations. Delineation of genetic structure using non-linked and ubiquitously genotyped SNPs reveal distinct genetic variation among the source and recipient populations as well as high levels of admixture in the post-translocation population resulting from translocations. Estimated ancestry derived from private alleles uncover introgression of unique variation from each source population as well as the maintenance of substantial levels of variation unique to Illinois. Our findings demonstrate that genome-wide analysis of variation is a valuable management tool for measuring the genomic effects of translocations and, subsequently, gauging genetic restoration success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-191
Number of pages13
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Conservation
  • Genetic restoration
  • Greater prairie-chicken
  • Population genomics
  • RADseq
  • Translocations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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