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

Jenks, J.A., C.N. Jacques, J.D. Sievers, R.W. Klaver, R.T. Bowyer, and D.E. Roddy. 2006. Evaluating genetic viability of pronghorn in Wind Cave National Park. The Prairie Naturalist 38(3):155-165


The pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) was reintroduced into Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, in 1914 and thus, has inhabited the Park for almost a century. A decline in the population has raised concern for the continued existence of pronghorn inside Wind Cave National Park. Historically, pronghorn numbers reached greater than 300 individuals in the 1960’s but declined to about 30 individuals by 2002. The primary objective of our study was to evaluate genetic characteristics of pronghorn to determine if reduced heterozygosity contributed to the decline of pronghorn in Wind Cave National Park. Microsatellite DNA was collected from 75 pronghorn inhabiting Wind Cave National Park in western South Dakota (n = 11), northwestern South Dakota (n =33), and southwestern South Dakota (n = 31). Pronghorn in Wind Cave National Park had similar levels of observed heterozygosity (0.473 to 0.594) and low inbreeding coefficients (-0.168 to 0.037) when compared with other populations in western South Dakota. Furthermore, indices of population structure indicated no differentiation occurred among pronghorn populations. Results indicated that genetic variability was not a primary factor in the decline of pronghorn in Wind Cave National Park.