Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Preserving an icon: Impact of historical domestic cattle hybridization with American bison revealed

Date:
August 7, 2012
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
Plains bison are an iconic symbol of America on everything from coins to state flags. Now scientists are exploring how the cross-breeding of bison with domestic cattle in the late 1800s may still have unwanted effects on modern populations of the species.

Male American bison. Plains bison are an iconic symbol of America on everything from coins to state flags.
Credit: © Olga Itina / Fotolia

Plains bison are an iconic symbol of America on everything from coins to state flags. Now scientists writing in Conservation Biology are exploring how the cross-breeding of bison with domestic cattle in the late 1800s may still have unwanted effects on modern populations of the species.

"The plains bison are an iconic symbol of rugged individualism and the will to survive," said Professor James Derr from Texas A&M University. "The population crash and the spectacular recovery over the last 125 years is a classic example of the resilience of this species and the success of science based wildlife conservation."

Plains bison (Bison bison bison) once numbered in the tens of millions, but they were driven to the brink of extinction in the late 1880's during America's westward expansion. A small population of wild bison survived in Yellowstone National Park, while 5 herds remained in the hands of private ranchers. It is estimated that less than 100 surviving bison became the common ancestors of today's herds.

In some of these privately held herds, bison were crossed with domesticated cattle in an attempt to introduce the hardy bison traits into beef producing animals. While this effort failed to produce new and improved beef breeds, some hybrids were created, and with the use of molecular technologies, these scientists have discovered there remains a legacy of small amount of cattle genetic contamination in most bison herds in North America.

"Looking at the long-term recovery of the bison it is important to find out if this small amount of cattle genetics in an otherwise normal bison can really have a biological effect," said Derr. "We brought together researchers from Arizona, California, Montana and Texas to find out."

The team recorded size measurements for over 900 bison from a nutritionally harsh environment for bison on Santa Catalina Island in California and a nutritionally rich environment on a ranch in Montana.

The results revealed that bison with a particular domestic cattle genetic trait, mitochondrial DNA, were consistently smaller and lighter than animals with true bison mitochondrial DNA in both environments.

"We have found that this cattle ancestry affects phenotypic traits and most likely fitness of bison in herds which are maintained for both production and species conservation," concluded Derr. "Long term management efforts with bison, and possibly other species with a history of hybridization, must carefully consider the importance of genome integrity in order to preserve what is the foundation and essence of these species, their genomes."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. James N. Derr, Philip W. Hedrick, Natalie D. Halbert, Louis Plough, Lauren K. Dobson, Julie King, Calvin Duncan, David L. Hunter, Noah D. Cohen, Dennis Hedgecock. Phenotypic Effects of Cattle Mitochondrial DNA in American Bison. Conservation Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01905.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley. "Preserving an icon: Impact of historical domestic cattle hybridization with American bison revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120807104820.htm>.
Wiley. (2012, August 7). Preserving an icon: Impact of historical domestic cattle hybridization with American bison revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120807104820.htm
Wiley. "Preserving an icon: Impact of historical domestic cattle hybridization with American bison revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120807104820.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins