Zebras are members of the horse family. There are three species of zebras: the plains zebra Equus quagga, the Grevy's zebra E. grevyi and the mountain zebra E. zebra. The Grevy's zebra and the mountain zebra are endangered, and hybridization between the Grevy's zebra and the plains zebra has been documented, leading to a requirement for conservation genetic management within and between the species. We characterized 28 microsatellite markers in Grevy's zebra and assessed cross-amplification in plains zebra and two of its subspecies, as well as mountain zebra. A range of standard indices were employed to examine population genetic diversity and hybrid populations between Grevy's and plains zebra were simulated to investigate subspecies and hybrid detection. Microsatellite marker polymorphism was conserved across species with sufficient variation to enable individual identification in all populations. Comparative diversity estimates indicated greater genetic variation in plains zebra and its subspecies than Grevy's zebra, despite potential ascertainment bias. Species and subspecies differentiation were clearly demonstrated and F1 and F2 hybrids were correctly identified. These findings provide insights into captive population genetic diversity in zebras and support the use of these markers for identifying hybrids, including the known hybrid issue in the endangered Grevy's zebra.
- MICROSATELLITE MARKERS
- PARTRIDGE POPULATIONS