Research Professor of Animal Genetics
Phone: (907) 227-1753
Fax: (907) 745-6268
BS, 1976, Forest Biology, State University of New York
MS, 1986, Biology, Montana State University
PhD, 1989, Biology, Yale University
None at present
Population genetics and phylogenetics of mammals using molecular genetics methods. Systematics and taxonomy of ungulates, carnivores, and marine mammals. Domestic livestock genetics to assess fitness and performance traits within and among breeds, lines, and herds of cattle. Comparative approaches to assessing genetic variation in domestic cervids (reindeer) and recently-domesticated species (elk, bison). Application and interpretation of science for applications (e.g., agriculture and wildlife management).
Current Research Programs:
Dr. Cronin’s research is focused on animal genetics, including population genetics and phylogenetics. In these projects, I generate and analyze genetic data useful for domestic livestock husbandry, fish and wildlife population management, toxicological assessments, and basic science on the genetics and evolution of natural populations.
1) My work with domestic ungulates, including reindeer, cattle, bison, and other species is in collaboration with other SNRAS faculty and biologists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Montana State University, and researchers at other western land grant universities under the multi-state research project (WERA 001): Beef Cattle Breeding in the Western Region. My work focuses on quantification of the molecular genetic relationships of cattle breeds, lines, and herds to assist in assessment of performance traits and contribute to improved cattle breeding. Work with reindeer and bison includes comparisons of subspecies and characterize genetic variation for use in domestic and wild herd management.
2)Research with carnivores includes phylogenetic assessment of polar bears and brown/grizzly bears, to infer the timing of divergence of the species. Analyses with geologists will assess paleo-environments and conditions of sea ice and sea level that determine polar bear habitat during the Pleistocene and Holocene periods.
3)Another project is focused on assessment of genetic variation within and among wolf subspecies and populations.
4)Research on marine mammals focuses on analysis of genetic variation among populations of Steller Sea lions and beluga whales.
The research on wild populations has relevance to wildlife management and policy issues. Dr. Cronin’s service function in SNRAS includes disseminating scientific information to policy makers in state and federal government, agriculture, and the natural resource industries.
Examples of Research Support:
Grant from the Alaska Department of Commerce Community and Economic Development to study phylogenetics and population genetics Alaskan polar and brown bears, Steller sea lions, beluga whales with regard to science relevant to the Endangered Species Act. $400,000 2010-2011.
Examples of Publications:
Cronin, M.A. and L.D. Mech. 2009. Problems with the claim of ecotype and taxon status of the wolf in the Great Lakes region. Molecular Ecology 18:4991-4993.
Cronin, M.A., S.C. Amstrup, S. Talbot, K. Sage, and K.S. Amstrup. 2009. Genetic variation, relatedness, and effective population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska. The Journal of Heredity 100:681-690.
Cronin, M. A. 2007. Limitations of molecular genetics in conservation. Nature Vol. 447 no 7145:638.
Cronin, M. A., M. D. MacNeil, and J. C. Patton. 2006. Mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite DNA variation in domestic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) and relationships with wild caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti, Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus, and Rangifer tarandus caribou). Journal of Heredity 97:525-530.
Cronin, M. A., S. C. Amstrup, and K. T. Scribner. 2006. Microsatellite DNA and mitochondrial DNA variation in polar bears in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology 84:655-660.
Cronin, M. A. 2006. A Proposal to eliminate redundant terminology for intra-species groups. Wildlife Society Bulletin 34:237-241.
Cronin, M.A., R. Shideler, L. Waits, and R.J. Nelson. 2005. Genetic variation and relatedness in grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in the Prudhoe Bay region and adjacent areas in northern Alaska. Ursus 16:70-84.
Cronin, M.A., H.A. Whitlaw, and W.B. Ballard. 2000. Northern Alaska oil fields and caribou. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28:919-922.
Cronin, M.A., J. Bodkin, B. Ballachey, J. Estes, and J.C. Patton. 1996. Mitochondrial DNA variation among subspecies and populations of sea otters (Enhydra lutris). Journal of Mammalogy, 77:546-557.
Cronin, M.A., S.C. Amstrup, G.W. Garner, and E.R. Vyse. 1991. Interspecific and intraspecific mitochondrial DNA variation in North American bears (Ursus). Canadian Journal of Zoology 69:2985-2992.
Cronin, M.A., D.A. Palmisciano, E.R. Vyse, and D.G. Cameron. 1991. Mitochondrial DNA in wildlife forensic science: species identification of tissues. Wildlife Society Bulletin 19:94-105.
Cronin, M.A., E.R. Vyse, and D.G. Cameron. 1988. Genetic relationships between mule deer and white-tailed deer in Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management 52:320-328.