The black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) was extirpated from Arizona by 1960. Prairie dogs in general are keystone species, providing vital functions to the grassland ecosystems they call home. Recently, Arizona Game and Fish has begun reintroducing the species back into southern Arizona.
To aid in this reintroduction, we are examining the evolutionary history of this species from across their range. We have collected samples from Chihuahua up through Montana from both contemporary populations and museum specimens.
Our goals include: determining the validity of the C. l. ludovicianus and C. l. arizonensis subspecies, locating potential source populations to aid the reintroduction, and examine the historical connectivity of prairie dogs in Arizona to the rest of their range.
For the modern samples we utilized a Genotyping-By-Sequencing technique to get a final data set of ~10K SNPs. Data analysis is currently ongoing. Additionally, using the SNPs discovered from our GBS run, we will design a hybrid capture array to examine the hide and bone samples collected from the Smithsonian Museum and tha UA mammals collection.
Stay tuned for upcoming updates and publications! If you’re interested in this project, check out my bio!