Navigation Links
Mountain caribou's ancient ancestry revealed
Date:1/28/2009

The declining mountain caribou populations of Canada's southern Rockies are a more distinct breed than scientists previously believed, according to a new study by University of Calgary researchers that is shedding light on the ancient ancestry of the mountain-dwelling herbivores.

In a study published in the current issue of the journal Molecular Ecology, Faculty of Environmental Design PhD candidate Byron Weckworth and his research group describe how Alberta and British Columbia's mountain caribou populations are remnants of blending between the two major subspecies of caribou that likely occurred during the end of the last ice age about 10,000 years ago.

"These are special animals because they are not woodland caribou or tundra caribou, but a very interesting combination of the two," Weckworth said. "Mountain caribou are an important part of the genetic diversity of the entire species and maintaining that diversity will be critical as caribou face the impacts of continued human development and climate change into the future."

An analysis of mountain caribou DNA and 10 years of tracking the migratory patterns of populations across the southern Rockies in the Yellowstone-to-Yukon corridor, including western Alberta and eastern BC, showed that mountain caribou are hybrids of migratory tundra caribou and sedentary woodland caribou. The researchers believe the blending likely occurred during glacial retreat at the end of the last ice age when both subspecies of caribou could have expanded into the newly ice-free corridor along the eastern slopes of the Rockies.

"Their DNA is basically part woodland and part tundra, which is fascinating because this mixture is apparent given the genetic expression of migratory behavior." Weckworth said. "Among these mountain caribou we see a wide range of behavior from some individuals that don't migrate at all to some that move up to 100 kilometres between the foothills and the mountains every year. Populations contain both migratory and non-migratory individuals, and it is exactly this type of variation that provides them with the flexibility to adapt to a landscape that is changing due to climatic conditions and human activities."

Their findings could lead to a change in how the endangered populations are managed due to their unique genetics and behavior. For example, the Little Smoky population in Alberta has been declining for over a decade because of human-caused habitat changes that are believed to be altering predator-prey relationships. Genetic analyses confirm that the Little Smoky population is different from other caribou populations in west-central Alberta, and is likely the last remnant of distinct boreal caribou along the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies.

The study, which was supported by Weyerhaeuser, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Shell Canada, Parks Canada, and Alberta Department of Sustainable Resource Development, concludes that new conservation plans may be required to reflect the mountain caribou's unique nature.

"It is impossible to predict all the impacts of something like climate change, but we know that migration has been an important adaptive response in the past, and so it is best to preserve this unique genetic and behavioral variability to better enable caribou to adapt to an uncertain future," Weckworth said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Grady Semmens
gsemmens@ucalgary.ca
403-220-7722
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Scientists tackle mystery mountain illness
2. Mountain pine beetle: Canadas new government delivers
3. Mountain summits in the Alps becoming increasingly similar
4. Mysterious mountain dino may be a new species
5. Colorado Rocky Mountain Region: A Geological Cornucopia
6. International experts collect alpine fungi in Beartooth Mountains of Montana
7. White Mountain Research Station to host climate change conference
8. Tropical rainforest and mountain species may be threatened by global warming
9. Escherichia coli bacteria transferring between humans and mountain gorillas
10. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
11. CU-Boulder team discovers first ancient manioc fields in Americas
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Mountain caribou's ancient ancestry revealed
(Date:4/26/2016)... BANGALORE, India and LONDON ... Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a ... ), and Onegini today announced a partnership to ... banking solutions.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ... banks to provide their customers enhanced security to ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... Research and Markets has announced ... 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... global gait biometrics market is expected to grow ... 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates multiple variables ... to compute factors that are not or cannot ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys has completed ... Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned to the ... original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology Officer, ... Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of Software and ... company. Dr. Bready served as CEO of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... to bring innovative medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The ... implementation of various distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 Epic Sciences unveiled a ... susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination ... The new test has already been incorporated into ... cancer types. Over 230 clinical trials ... pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical , an ... designed to target cancer stemness pathways, announced that ... Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and ... cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is ... inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...  The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 ... for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a ... Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: