The demographic, social, and genetic effects of harvest-based management practices are not fully understood, especially in social carnivore species. Minnesota was one of several states that instituted a public hunting and trapping season to manage gray wolves (Canis lupus) following the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act in 2012. Hunters and trappers harvested 413 wolves in Minnesota in 2012, about three times the average number of wolves removed annually under depredation control in previous years. Using tissue from wolves harvested during the 2012 and 2013 seasons in Minnesota, I assessed the population genetic consequences of this increase in anthropogenic mortality to determine if the harvest led to changes in population genetic structure and diversity in the first post-harvest year. I also sequenced a portion of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region to assess the extent of gray wolf-eastern wolf (C. lycaon) and gray wolf-coyote (C. latrans) hybrid ancestry in Minnesota wolves. I found no significant difference in genetic diversity indices or mtDNA haplotype frequencies between years; however, population genetic structure and effective gene flow among the sampled wolves changed from 2012 to 2013. These analyses provide a baseline to determine variation in structure between years is normal for Minnesota wolves and how changes in genetic structure positively or negatively impact wolf populations. Baseline population genetic analysis at the beginning of managed harvest enabled my analysis of initial genetic responses to harvest, and will allow for comparisons with the population genetic structure of historical and future wolf populations in Minnesota.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. December 2015. Major: Integrated Biosciences. Advisors: Jared Strasburg, Ronald Moen. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 90 pages.
Genetic diversity, structure, and hybridization in a harvested gray wolf (Canis lupus) population in Minnesota.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.