The genetical history of an isolated population of the endangered grey wolf Canis lupus: A study of nuclear and mitochondrial polymorphisms
1996 (English)In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8436, Vol. 351, no 1348, 1661-1669 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The grey wolf was thought to have been exterminated in the Scandinavian peninsula when the sudden appearance of a few animals in southern Sweden was reported in 1980. These wolves founded a new Swedish population which currently numbers at least 25 individuals, one of the world's smallest populations of the species. The sudden occurrence of the founder animals caused speculation that these had not appeared by 'natural' means but rather were Swedish zoo animals deliberately released by man. To analyse if this was the case and to elucidate the genetic status bi; this small and isolated population, we assessed nuclear and mitochondrial (mt) genetic variability in wild and captive grey wolves, using microsatellite typing and sequence analysis of the mtDNA D-loop. The new population was found to be monomorphic for a mtDNA haplotype which also was present in the Swedish zoo population. A total of four different mtDNA haplotypes were found among all captive and wild wolves (including two animals from an occasional establishment of a few wolves in northern Sweden in the late 1970s), with a maximum sequence divergence of 3.1 %. Despite the mtDNA congruence, animals from the zoo population could most likely be excluded as founders for the wild population since the latter group of animals displayed several unique microsatellite alleles (i.e. alleles not found in the zoo population). Moreover, a phylogenetic analysis of individual wolves, using microsatellite allele sharing as distance measure, placed all wild animals on a branch separated from that of the captive animals. The average degree of nuclear variability as well as allelic diversity was similar in the wild and the captive populations, respectively, but was lower than that reported for North-American populations of grey wolves. Polymorphism has declined in wild wolves born in recent years suggesting that this small population is currently suffering from a loss of genetic variability due to inbreeding. Inbreeding depression is documented in captive wolves and the long-term survival of the wild Swedish population may therefore depend on immigration of animals from Russia. This study illustrates the usefulness of microsatellites for dissecting close genetic relationships and for addressing the genetic status of individuals.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1996. Vol. 351, no 1348, 1661-1669 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13927ISI: A1996WB72600001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-13927DiVA: diva2:328266
QC 201007022010-07-022010-07-022010-07-02Bibliographically approved