Among the consequences of barriers to movements of animals within and between populations are a reduction of genetic diversity and an increase in genetic differentiation between populations. Protein coding genes of the MHC have been previously identified as potentially suitable markers for estimating adaptive variability within populations. In addition to the use of traditional neutral microsatellite markers, this project “Jackals” will investigate variation in levels of allelic expression and heterozygosity at the Major Histocompatibility Complex, (MHC) in populations of Black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) located within and outside wildlife reserves. The project will also use spohisticated GPS tracking techniques to determine if wildlife park barrier fences present an obstacle to gene flow between park and free-ranging populations.
The objectives of this research are therefore;
• To compare differences between MHC allelic profiles for populations/family groups of jackals located within at least two fenced wildlife parks and from free ranging jackals from the habitat surrounding these parks.
• Compare levels of MHC and neural maker heterozygosity between these populations/family groups.
• Determine if park jackals do have higher ecto-parasite burdens that their free ranging counterparts.
• Determine if correlations exist between presence/absence of specific MHC alleles and high ecto-parasite burdens
• To assess the permeability of game fences to the movements of jackals using telemetry techniques.
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