Population Genetics of Ocelots in Northern Argentina

Friday, 13 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Caroline A. Cline, New York, NY
An ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is a medium-sized cat whose range extends from southern North America into South America. Traditional field survey approaches are largely ineffective, as ocelots are extremely secretive cats and difficult to study. Using DNA from scat samples, this study has been able to estimate population structure and genetic diversity of ocelots in Iguazú National Park in northern Argentina. This information can help park managers better protect ocelots by answering many questions such as genetic diversity, genetic connectivity, and familial structure. We molecularly identified 170 scat samples as ocelot and were able to genotype 121 of these samples using 12 microsatellite loci. We resolved 64 individuals (PID = 1.43 X 10-13) and found a high level of allelic diversity (mean number of alleles per locus = 9.16; mean polymorphic information content = 0.708), although Ho was less than He in all 12 loci. We were also able to estimate population structure and relatedness. The results of this study can help park managers better conserve ocelots and their habitat.