Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project

Using Genomics to Understand Population Dynamics and Enhance the Management of Canada Lynx Populations in the Contiguous United States

September 2015 - December 2019


Participating Agencies

  • Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Management of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) populations occurring at the edge of the species range has been informed by limited regional studies mostly focused on demographics and ecology. Tools are needed to provide baseline metrics of population health and an understanding of landscape dynamics to inform regional and range-wide management and monitoring strategies. Next-generation sequencing produces a high density of genetic markers (e.g., single nucleotide polymorphisms, structural variants, mutations) that enhance the precision and reliability of population demographic parameter estimates relevant to conservation practitioners. In September of 2018 we produced the first-ever reference genome for Canada lynx, which will serve as a publicly available community resource and a powerful tool for population-level assessments. Ultimately this work will provide baseline metrics for managing Canada lynx populations in the lower 48 states and management recommendations that conserve or enhance population fitness and resiliency. This project is a multi-disciplinary collaboration including the Massachusetts Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit at UMass Amherst, the Vertebrate Genomes Laboratory at Rockefeller University, the State of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, and the Smithsonian Institution.