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Paternity and mating system in wolverines Gulo gulo
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics, Evolutionary Biology. (Conservation genetics)
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2007 (English)In: Wildlife Biology, ISSN 0909-6396, Vol. 13, no Suppl.2, 13-30 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Knowledge of the wolverine Gulo gulo mating system is limited. In this study, we use 20 microsatellite loci for paternity testing in 145 wolverine offspring with known mothers. Samples were collected during > 10 years in two Scandinavian populations, mainly in connection with radio-telemetry studies and as part of long-term population monitoring. In total, 51% of the offspring were assigned a father. Our results demonstrate that the wolverine exhibits a polygamous mating system as some males were shown to produce offspring with more than one female in a single year. Females often reproduced with the same male in subsequent breeding years, but sometimes changed their partner, potentially as a consequence of a change in the territory-holding male in the area. In the majority of litters, siblings were unambiguously assigned the same father, indicating that multiple paternity is rare. Of 23 breeding pairs, for which telemetry data were available, 20 had overlapping home ranges, suggesting that pair formation generally is consistent with the territories held by wolverine males and females.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 13, no Suppl.2, 13-30 p.
Keyword [en]
Gulo gulo, microsatellite, multiple paternity, parentage analysis
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-94150DOI: 10.2981/0909-6396(2007)13[13:PAMSIW]2.0.CO;2ISI: 000250588600003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-94150DiVA: diva2:167903
Available from: 2006-03-30 Created: 2006-03-30 Last updated: 2011-04-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Conservation Genetics of Scandinavian Wolverines
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conservation Genetics of Scandinavian Wolverines
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, genetic methods for individual identification and sex determination of wolverines from non-invasive samples were developed and applied in genetic monitoring of Scandinavian wolverine populations. Paternity and mating system of wolverines were studied by combining genetic analysis with telemetry data. Moreover, the possibility to obtain DNA from claws left on tanned carnivore hides was investigated.

Non-invasive genetic sampling was effective in revealing important population parameters. For the subpopulation in southern Norway, a population size of approximately 90 individuals, an equal sex ratio and similar levels of genetic diversity as in the main Scandinavian population were revealed. Genetic erosion in this small population has likely been counteracted by immigration of individuals from the main population since its re-establishment around 1970.

During the 1990s, two areas in east-central Sweden were colonised by wolverines. In a survey comprising 400 non-invasive samples collected during five winters, a total of 22 wolverines were detected. Genetic data suggest that inbreeding has occurred in both areas and that the two populations were founded by as few as 2-4 individuals. These findings suggest that gene flow from the main population is crucial for their survival even in a short time perspective. The detection of occasional stray individuals from the main population shows that this is indeed feasible.

Paternity analysis of 145 wolverine offspring in northern Sweden and southern Norway confirmed a polygamous mating system in wolverines. Breeding pair formation was generally consistent with the territories held by males and females, i.e. breeding pairs had overlapping territories. In the majority of litters, siblings were assigned the same father, thus indicating that multiple paternity is rare.

Tanning is a common form of preservation of mammalian specimens that normally precludes genetic analysis. Nevertheless, I demonstrate the possibility to successfully extract and amplify DNA from claws left on tanned carnivore hides.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2006. 51 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 154
Molecular genetics, carnivores, conservation, genetic monitoring, molecular sexing, non-invasive genetic techniques, parentage analysis, tanning, Genetik, Gulo gulo
National Category
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-6636 (URN)91-554-6495-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-04-21, Zootissalen, EBC, Villavägen 9, Uppsala, 13:00
Available from: 2006-03-30 Created: 2006-03-30Bibliographically approved

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