Monitoring is an essential part of conservation and maintenance of biological diversity. Over the past centuries, many game species have experienced severe population declines or been driven to extinction through over-hunting. Thanks to intense monitoring, management and reintroduction programmes, several game species have recovered from near-extinction and are now thriving. However, genetic monitoring is often missing from management programmes of game populations. This is rather surprising because genetic diversity is known to affect the health, fitness and long-term survival of populations. There is thus an urgent need to incorporate genetic monitoring in game management in order to ensure long-term persistence and sustainable harvest of game populations.
Moose (Alces alces) were nearly extirpated from Sweden between the 18th and 20th Centuries due to over-hunting. Since the middle of the 20th Century, the Swedish population has increased in numbers and recolonized its previous range. While moose populations are closely monitored and their harvesting intensively regulated, genetic data is not included in the species’ management. Moose is thus the perfect model species to develop and test genomic tools for game management.
Here, we propose to analyse complete moose genomes (N~75) to examine the temporal changes in genome-wide diversity in relation to the species history and its harvesting strategy. Specifically, we will examine the genomic effects of the 18-20th Century decline and assess the genomic consequences of the current harvesting strategy.