Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Genetic relationships between feral cattle from Chirikof Island, Alaska and other breeds.

Abstract

The origin of cattle on Chirikof Island, off the coast of Alaska, is not well documented. We assessed genetic differentiation of cattle isolated on Chirikof Island from several breeds commonly used for commercial production in North America including breeds popularly believed to have contributed to the Chirikof Island population. A set of 34 microsatellite loci was used to genotype Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Highland, Limousin, Red Angus, Salers, Shorthorn, Simmental, Tarentaise and Texas Longhorn cattle sampled from North America and the Chirikof Island population. Resulting FST statistics for these loci ranged from 0.06 to 0.22 and on average, 14% of total genetic variation was between breeds. Whether population structure was modelled as a bifurcating tree or genetic network, Chirikof Island cattle appeared to be unique and strongly differentiated relative to the other breeds that were sampled. Bayesian clustering for multiple-locus assignment to genetic groups indicated low levels of admixture in the Chirikof Island population. Thus, the Chirikof Island population may be a novel genetic resource of some importance for conservation and industry.