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Isolation, small population size, and management influence inbreeding and reduced genetic variation in K’gari dingoes

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Miller, S. M., Behrendorff, L., Allen, B. L., Andrew, R. L., Ballard, G., Ballard, J. W. O., Cairns, K. M., Conroy, G. C., Fleming, P. J. S., Grueber, C. E., Oakey, J., Smith, D. A., Stephens, D., Wade, C. and Bishop, J. M. (2024) Isolation, small population size, and management influence inbreeding and reduced genetic variation in K’gari dingoes. Conservation Genetics . ISSN 1572-9737


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-024-01616-8

Publisher URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-024-01616-8


Small island populations are vulnerable to genetic decline via demographic and environmental stochasticity. In the absence of immigration, founder effects, inbreeding and genetic drift are likely to contribute to local extinction risk. Management actions may also have a greater impact on small, closed populations. The demographic and social characteristics of a species can, however, delay the impact of threats. K’gari, a ~ 1 660 km2 island off the Australian east coast and UNESCO World Heritage Site (Fraser Island 1842–2023), supports an isolated population of approximately 70–200 dingoes that represent an ideal opportunity to explore the small island paradigm. To examine temporal and spatial patterns of genetic diversity in this population we analysed single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotype data (72 454 SNPS) for 112 K’gari dingoes collected over a 25-year period (1996 to 2020). Genetic diversity was lower in K’gari dingoes than mainland dingoes at the earliest time point in our study and declined significantly following a management cull in 2001. We did not find any spatial genetic patterns on the island, suggesting high levels of genetic connectivity between socially discrete packs. This connectivity, combined with the social structure and behaviour of dingoes, may act in concert to buffer the population from the impacts of genetic drift in the short term. Nevertheless, a general decline in genetic variation via inbreeding and drift has occurred over the past 20 years which we suggest should be considered in any future management planning for the population. Monitoring patterns of genetic variation, together with a clearer understanding of the social ecology of K’gari dingoes, will aid in the development of measurable genetic targets set over ecologically meaningful timelines, and help ensure continued survival of this culturally important population.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:Canis familiaris Canis dingo Wongari Genetic drift Genetic diversity Inbreeding Island population K’gari Social structure
Subjects:Science > Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Mammals > Carnivora
Science > Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Mammals > Carnivora > Canidae (Dogs)
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia > Queensland
Live Archive:22 Apr 2024 02:19
Last Modified:22 Apr 2024 02:19

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