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DNA-based monitoring of two newly founded Scandinavian wolverine populations
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology.
2007 (English)In: Conservation Genetics, ISSN 1566-0621, E-ISSN 1572-9737, Vol. 8, no 4, 843-852 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The wolverine is an endangered carnivore that in northwestern Europe is restricted to the mountain range along the border between Sweden and Norway. The Scandinavian wolverine population experienced a severe decline in numbers due to human persecution during the 20th century, although with legislative protection the population has recently implied that the population slowly has started to recover (current population size estimate of 800 individuals). In the mid 1990s, wolverines appeared in two new and isolated areas east of the mountain range, in the forest landscape close to the Gulf of Bothnia. Using non-invasive, DNA-based monitoring, we show here that these new subpopulations were likely founded by as few as 2 and 2-4 individuals, respectively, and that little, if any, genetic contact with the main population since colonisation has been established. A high degree of genetic similarity among individuals in the two areas indicates inbreeding. We estimate the minimum number of wolverines known to be alive in these areas during the period of 2001-2005 to 5 and 17, respectively, with one subpopulation showing decreasing (currently 2) numbers and the other increasing (10). For the somewhat larger population, we infer a tentative pedigree from relatedness values and parentage tests, which indicates the occurrence of brother-sister matings. This study illustrates the usefulness of non-invasive monitoring in the management of endangered carnivore populations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 8, no 4, 843-852 p.
Keyword [en]
Carnivores, Conservation genetics, Inbreeding, Non-invasive sampling, Parentage
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-94151DOI: 10.1007/s10592-006-9231-9ISI: 000248300300007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-94151DiVA: diva2:167904
Available from: 2006-03-30 Created: 2006-03-30 Last updated: 2016-04-25Bibliographically 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.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 154
Keyword
Molecular genetics, carnivores, conservation, genetic monitoring, molecular sexing, non-invasive genetic techniques, parentage analysis, tanning, Genetik, Gulo gulo
National Category
Genetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-6636 (URN)91-554-6495-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-04-21, Zootissalen, EBC, Villavägen 9, Uppsala, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2006-03-30 Created: 2006-03-30Bibliographically approved

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