Apr 1, 2014

Living on the edge: reconstructing the genetic history of the Finnish wolf population

BMC Evolutionary Biology
Eeva JanssonJ Aspi


Many western European carnivore populations became almost or completely eradicated during the last ~200 years, but are now recovering. Extirpation of wolves started in Finland in the 19th century, and for more than 150 years the population size of wolves has remained small. To investigate historical patterns of genetic variation, we extracted DNA from 114 wolf samples collected in zoological museums over the last ~150 years. Fifteen microsatellite loci were used to look at genotypic variation in this historical sample. Additionally, we amplified a 430 bp sequence of mtDNA control region from the same samples. Contemporary wolf samples (N = 298) obtained after the population recovery in the mid-1990s, were used as a reference. Our analyses of mtDNA revealed reduced variation in the mtDNA control region through the loss of historical haplotypes observed prior to wolf declines. Heterozygosity at autosomal microsatellite loci did not decrease significantly. However, almost 20% of microsatellite alleles were unique to wolves collected before the 1960s. The genetic composition of the population changed gradually with the largest changes occurring prior to 1920. Half of the oldest historical samples formed a distinguishable genetic cl...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Genetic Drift
Short Tandem Repeat
Abnormal Fragmented Structure
DNA, Mitochondrial
Pseudo brand of pseudoephedrine
Dysequilibrium Syndrome
Genetics, Population
Alces alces
Loss of Heterozygosity

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