Masters Thesis

Population genetics of the endangered giant kangaroo rat, Dipodomys ingens, in the Southern San Joaquin Valley

The Giant Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ingens) is a federally and state-listed endangered species, endemic to the San Joaquin Valley, Carrizo and Elkhorn Plains, and the Cuyama Valley. Populations of the endangered Giant Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ingens) have decreased over the past 100 years because of habitat fragmentation and isolation. Changes in the population structure that can occur due to habitat fragmentation can significantly affect the population size and the dispersal of these animals. Dr. David Germano and I collected small ear clippings from male and female Giant Kangaroo Rats from six sites along the southern San Joaquin Valley to determine the genetic population structure of this species in this part of their range. We predicted that geographic distance and isolation of populations would decrease genetic relatedness compared to populations closer together. Having a better understanding of the genetic structure in this species will help with conservation actions, such as translocating individuals within the range of the species. These data were compared to published estimates of genetic diversity of Giant Kangaroo Rats in the Carrizo Plain to the west and the Panoche area to the north, the other large population centers of this species.

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