Projects - Feral Pig Population Genetics

Feral PigsFeral Pig Population Ecology and Genetics

Feral pigs were introduced in the 1800's (and perhaps earlier) to coastal and inland California. Facinating creatures that they are, these non-native ecological rototillers (seeking their soil-borne food) can quickly destroy native vegetation, and disrupt the ecology of entire hill sides.

How are populations of feral pigs (often also called "wild pigs" in California) grouped across the California landscape? What are the relative genetic influences of domestic pig and Eurasian Wild Boar? We are working to answer these and other questions about feral pig ecology.

We are collaborating with California Department of Fish and Game, USDA, and private hunters and ranchers to collect samples from feral pigs throughout the state.

A feral pig (photo courtesy Rick Sweitzer). We are currently studying the ecology of feral pig populations here in California, specifically how different feral pig populations interact with each other, by analyzing their DNA. This information can be used to better understand the lifestyle of these animals as a unique species as well as to manage pig diseases within the state. Holly Ernest, Lisa Goldberg are working on the project, with past contributions from Jay Well, Elizabeth Heeg (initial stages of this project for her MS in Genetics), and Elizabeth Long (contributed laboratory work to the project).

For more information on feral pigs, see:
California Department of Fish and Game Wild Pig Program
Pinnacles National Monument, Nature and Science: Wild Pigs
APHIS: Wild pigs