Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Thomas P. Rooney, Ph.D. (Advisor); Jeffrey L. Peters, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Fakhar-i- Abbas, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Byron Weckworth, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Volker Bahn, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are an enigmatic, high-altitude species whose challenging habitat, low population densities and patchy distribution have presented challenges for scientists studying its biology, population structure, and genetics. To address these important ecological, conservation, and evolutionary questions, scientists are tailoring laboratory and computational methods to better extract the information from non-invasive samples, only available source of DNA for this species. These samples with very low quantity and quality of DNA, present unique methodological challenges. ddRAD-seq, one of next generation sequencing method is used here to develop reference sequence library for snow leopard using five blood samples from Mongolian snow leopards. 697 SNPs are identified through this method. This genetic data from ddRAD-seq will be invaluable for conducting population and landscape scale studies that can inform snow leopard conservation strategies. Then probes are designed for target DNA capture, a widely used method for studying low quality and quantity of DNA from ancient DNA samples, eDNA, and forensics, using developed ddRAD-seq reference sequence library. Non-invasive fecal scats of snow leopards from seven different countries are used for target DNA capture. In addition to target DNA, high number of non-targeted mtDNA of snow leopard and prey species are also obtained. This non-targeted DNA is used to identify prey species in snow leopard scats that are collected from different regions/locations. 3369 bp of snow leopard mtDNA are used to identify 22 parsimony informative sites that can be useful for future mitochondrial gene-based population genetics and structure studies of snow leopards.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Year Degree Awarded