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The Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit

The University of Montana

Nathan Borg - M.Sc. Candidate - Wildlife Biology

Advisor - Mike Mitchell


Natural Science Building - Room 312


Phone: 406-243-4348

Nathan Borg

Project Title:

Movements, gene flow, and relatedness of Bighorn Sheep in Central Idaho


The primary objective of my project is to assess connectivity of bighorn sheep populations at different scales in order to understand the potential for disease transmission and spread between these populations. At a broad scale, I am using landscape genetic techniques to measure levels of gene flow between populations and to assess factors that regulate connectivity. To understand disease transmission at a local scale, I am combining telemetry and genetic data to evaluate bighorn group size, as well as interactions among and between groups. From these data, I will test a range of covariates in predictive models of disease spread within the lower Salmon River drainage. In addition, I will explore measures of genetic diversity in bighorn sheep across central Idaho to determine if there is a relationship between genetic diversity and recruitment or lamb survival.

Progress and Status:

In November 2010, we captured and collared 1 ram and 2 ewes and re-collared 1 ram, all with VHF collars. This brought the total number of radio-collared bighorn to 34. Locations are collected bi-weekly during the majority of the year except from April to September when they are flown weekly. During the fall of 2010, I began extracting DNA from 241 bighorn blood or horn samples. In January of 2011, I finished DNA extraction and began analysis of nDNA. I presented preliminary results at both the ID and the MTTWS meetings. From late May through early July, we conduct lamb counts to assess productivity in the lower Salmon study area. I collected 50 fecal samples for DNA analysis from the South Fork of the Salmon River. During summer 2011, 151 samples were processed for mtDNA analysis.

Natural Sciences Room 205

Missoula, MT 59812