Date of Graduation
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Wildlife and Fisheries Resources
Amy B. Welsh
John W. Edwards
Rich E. Rogers
Fishers (Pekania pennanti) were reintroduced in West Virginia in 1969 with no population wide genetic analysis ever having been conducted. Genetic analysis of reintroduced populations is vital to assess genetic diversity as an indicative of population viability. My objective was to collect fisher samples throughout West Virginia, nearby states where fisher may be migrating (PA and NY), and the New Hampshire source population to provide a full genetic interpretation of the reintroduced West Virginia population. Genetic analysis was used to measure genetic diversity, admixture or delineation of subpopulations, and effective population size. Sample location and genetic data were combined to assemble population-based maps for the population, revealing possible migration routes between individuals and subpopulations. Due to the small number of individuals that were released during reintroduction into West Virginia (n=23), we predicted effects of low genetic diversity. Genetic analysis revealed distinct genetic populations (K=3) across WV, PA, NY and NH. There were also distinct populations (K=3) within the state of West Virginia. These three populations support contemporary evidence of historic reintroductions in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and the possibility of a relict population remaining in West Virginia. The effective population size for West Virginia (Ne = 94) was comparable to neighboring Pennsylvania (Ne = 108), even though West Virginia has shown evidence of a recent bottleneck. Allelic richness was not different across all four states. Relatively low heterozygosity was found in the West Virginia population (He=0.560) compared to the source population (He=0.623), thus an effort to add genetic diversity through additional translocations from different sources may be necessary.
Harms, Caroline E., "Population Genetics of a Reintroduced Fisher (Pekania pennanti) Population in West Virginia" (2021). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 7999.