Bison Conservation Genetics Workshop:
Report and Recommendations
The workshop held in Nebraska in September 2008 brought together government and non-government scientists to develop guidance for genetic management of federal bison herds. Most of the 12 DOI herds show low levels of cattle introgression. Herds showing no evidence of cattle ancestry by current molecular methods are the highest priority for protection. Most of these herds were founded with very few bison and have been maintained at relatively low population sizes. There are no apparent effects of inbreeding, and they have retained significant amounts of genetic variation. To preserve genetic variation, it is recommended that herds should be managed at a population level of 1,000 animals or more, with a sex ratio that enables competition between breeding bulls. Wildlife refuges and national parks that currently have bison herds (with the exception of Yellowstone National Park) do not have enough land to support populations of this size. It will be important to develop satellite herds to attain population targets, and develop a metapopulation structure between herds. Incorporating genomics and additional genetic markers will aid in selection of individual bison for breeding or translocation to other herds.
For additional information: Contact Glenn Plumb by going to the Contact Us page and selecting Biological Resources as the recipient.