Genetic Variability and Inbreeding in Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) Populations in Ohio

Emma Young and Dr. Christine Anderson, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Capital University, 1 College and Main, Columbus, OH 43209

The gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is one of two native fox species in Ohio. They are also one of two species within their genus worldwide, making them taxonomically unique. Gray fox populations have been in severe decline over the past 20 years in Ohio, likely due to the co-occurrence of the invasion of coyotes (Canis latrans) as competitors and predators, increase in raccoons (Procyon lotor) as sources of canine distemper disease, and a record high harvest of gray foxes in the early 1980s. Small populations may experience inbreeding depression, loss of genetic variation, and lowered immunity pushing it beyond a critical point and driving it to local extinction. It was predicted in this study that genetic variation in gray foxes was low and inbreeding depression was detectable in Ohio populations. A total of 20 extracted gray fox DNA samples from 10 counties in eastern and southeastern Ohio were obtained and amplified in multiplex reactions at three different microsatellite loci (GF-04, GF-09, and GF-14) using Qiagen’s Multiplex PCR kit. The products were confirmed on 3% agarose gels and then genotyped at the OSUCCC-James Genomics Shared Resource Facility on an ABI 3730 genetic analyzer. Results showed that observed (HO) and expected heterozygosity (HE) were 0.699 and 0.705, respectively, and the level of inbreeding (FIS) was 0.034 using the program GENEPOP. Surprisingly, these initial findings suggest that genetic variation is moderate to high and inbreeding is low. Despite these preliminary results, 33 more gray fox tissue samples have been collected and will be analyzed and amplified at additional loci. This will provide a clearer understanding of the status of U. cinereoargenteus populations in Ohio. After additional data collection, if low genetic variation is observed, it may be necessary to design management plans to preserve genetic variation and conserve the species. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Emma Young

Institution: Capital University

Type: Poster

Subject: Ecology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 5
Date/Time: Tue 12:30pm-1:30pm
Session Number: 4104