Verifying the Origins of a Reintroduced Population of Gould’s Wild Turkey

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Journal of Wildlife Management






Wildlife Society

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The restoration of wildlife populations to historically occupied ranges is an important goal of modern wildlife management. In Arizona, USA, efforts have begun to reintroduce the Gould's subspecies of wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana) into its former range in the southeastern part of the state. However, individuals or descendants of the Merriam's subspecies (M. g. merriami) may remain in the reintroduction area from earlier releases and could potentially interbreed with reintroduced Gould's turkeys. We used 3 fundamentally different genetic markers to determine whether the wild turkeys currently occupying the Huachuca Mountains in southeastern Arizona were descended from the Gould's turkeys translocated there during the 1980s, or whether interbreeding had occurred with descendants of Merriam's turkeys from a translocation during 1950. We found consistent genetic differences between relict populations of the Merriam's turkey in Arizona and the Gould's turkey in northern Mexico. The Huachuca Mountains wild turkey population consistently grouped with the relict Gould's populations and showed no evidence of interbreeding with the Merriam's subspecies. In addition, we found evidence that the Huachuca Mountains population was less genetically diverse than the relict populations, and we recommend that this population be monitored for signs of inbreeding depression. The molecular markers developed for this study are important tools for future management of wild turkeys.


The Journal of Willife Management was originally published by Allen Press on behalf of the Wildlife Society. Publisher's PDF available through remote link via JSTOR.