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

Arizona Project

Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Taxonomy and Population Connectivity

December 2013 - December 2018


Participating Agencies

  • Arizona Game & Fish Dept.

We are using a combination of modern and museum samples, combined with a whole genome approach, to examine taxonomic relatedness and level of connectivity of the ancestral populations of prairie dogs in Arizona compared to the rest of its range. The black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) has experienced declines throughout its range over the past century, and was extirpated from Arizona in the 1960s. In 2008, individuals from New Mexico and Sonora were reintroduced in southern Arizona. Despite ongoing management efforts, little is known regarding the historical level of connectivity, taxonomic relatedness, and most importantly subspecies designation between populations native to Arizona and other populations in the southwestern US and Mexico. We have sampled modern and museum samples from across the range, with emphasis on Arizona, the Southwest, and the subspecies boundary. By performing genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) on our modern samples we will discover SNPs; these SNPs will then be used to design probes for targeted capture, which we will perform on our museum samples. Ultimately, we hope to aid the reintroduction efforts by providing information on which extant black-tailed prairie dog species are closest related to those formerly found in Arizona and to the reintroduced population