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Managing Disease for the Future: Identifying Strategies that Maximize Adaptive Capacity in Wild Populations

Currently, wild African buffalo are stringently monitored for bovine tuberculosis (bTB). Wildlife managers employ one of two bTB control strategies based on retaining either disease-resistant or disease-tolerant animals. However, these single disease trait strategies may be impacting the genetic variation of individual herds, inadvertently making them more vulnerable to bTB infection and other health concerns. Using DNA samples collected from free-ranging buffalo during a four-year period, researchers will investigate how disease control methods and resulting herd genetics correlate with bTB immune response and disease outcomes in wild herds. Identifying buffalo management strategies that support overall herd health and reduce genetically linked health issues will aid in the conservation of this iconic African species.