Paleoecology, Genomics and Genetic Diversity of American Bison and Other Bovine Species

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Genetics and Genomics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 July 2024 | Viewed by 463

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
Department of Biology, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, USA
Interests: ancient genomics; forensic DNA profiling; bison paleoecology and genomics; feral horse genetics; neanderthal and modern human evolution; human populations and medical genetics
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The composition of stable isotopes in teeth and bones of bovine species is increasingly used in the reconstruction of paleoecology, including climatic variables, feeding strategies and past migratory behavior. Dissecting the genetic background of adaptive responses to climate changes and environmental fluctuations is the area where paleoecology meets genomics. This field is especially important for bovine species such as American bison (Bison bison), which experienced extensive population bottleneck and genomic modification in historic time due to economic activity, habitat fragmentation and interbreeding with the closely related species. Understanding the genetic variants lost during the period of their anthropogenic decimation and their functional roles in the adaptation, physiology, and health of bovines is important for the next-generation management addressing global climate changes to ensure long-term species viability.

American bison gives us a good example of the bovine species that can benefit from collaborative studies in paleoecology and genomics. B. bison is an evolutionary descendant of the steppe bison (B. priscus) that migrated to North America from Eurasia through the Bering Land Bridge during the middle Pleistocene. Adaptation to local environments allowed the bison to survive rapid climate changes and drastic fluctuations of environmental factors in the terminus of the late Pleistocene epoch and to become the largest mammal taxa in North America. In the Holocene, bison continued to evolve, and flourished in the Great Plains despite wide climatic variability. The adaptation to the diverse ecosystems across the continent required the emergence of new genetic variants that had been associated with the evolution of complex traits and the adaptation to climate and environmental changes.

The paleoecology of bovine species can also benefit from the genomics analysis of dental calculus accumulated on teeth in different epochs. Dental calculus is a storehouse of information about the surrounding ecosystems and the animal health retained in environmental DNA (eDNA) and composition of the oral microbiome. Combining eDNA and oral microbiome data with the microscopy of pollen grains, phytoliths, plant fibers, starch grains, and diatoms embedded in the dental calculus can provide high-resolution reconstructions of past environments. Finally, we cannot neglect the bovine remains well-preserved in the permafrost that aid the reconstruction of paleoecology based on their gut microbiome and dietary profiles.

This Special Issue is an inspiring opportunity to publish cross-disciplinary studies on stable isotope paleoecology and evolutionary changes in the genome diversity of different bovine species. We encourage authors to submit manuscripts based on different approaches to the study of paleoecology, including stable isotopes, genomics, the genetic diversity of maternal and paternal lineages, SNPs and other polymorphisms in nuclear genomes, dental calculus and gut microbiomes, and the microscopy of microfossils preserved in dental calculus. Manuscripts on morphometric analysis of the bovine species as it relates to adaptation to past climate changes are also aligned with the goals of the Special Issue. Considering the important economic, social, and spiritual role of bovine species in human civilization and for different nations, we welcome manuscripts developed from collaboration with Indigenous people and local communities on the comparison of historical and genetic records of bovine species. 

You may choose our Joint Special Issue in Diversity.

Dr. Igor Ovchinnikov
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • bison
  • buffalo
  • bovine species
  • paleoecology of habitats
  • genetic diversity
  • ancient and modern genomes
  • evolution of bison and other bovine species
  • conservation
  • great Plains
  • dental calculus and microfossils
  • oral and gut microbiomes

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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