University of Oulu

Lansink, G.M.J., Esparza-Salas, R., Joensuu, M. et al. Population genetics of the wolverine in Finland: the road to recovery?. Conserv Genet 21, 481–499 (2020).

Population genetics of the wolverine in Finland : the road to recovery?

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Author: Lansink, Gerhardus M. J.1; Esparza‑Salas, Rodrigo2; Joensuu, Maija3;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics, Swedish Museum of Natural History, P.O. Box 50007, 104 05, Stockholm, Sweden
3Kenttätie 10 B 21, 90130, Oulu, Finland
4Metsähallitus, Parks and Wildlife Finland, P.O. Box 81, 90101, Oulu, Finland
5Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, P.O. Box 5685, Torgarden, 7485, Trondheim, Norway
6Metsähallitus, Parks and Wildlife Finland, P.O. Box 8016, 96101, Rovaniemi, Finland
7Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), P.O. Box 16, 96301, Rovaniemi, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-05-27


After decades, even centuries of persecution, large carnivore populations are widely recovering in Europe. Considering the recent recovery of the wolverine (Gulo gulo) in Finland, our aim was to evaluate genetic variation using 14 microsatellites and mtDNA control region (579 bp) in order (1) to determine whether the species is represented by a single genetic population within Finland, (2) to quantify the genetic diversity, and (3) to estimate the effective population size. We found two major genetic clusters divided between eastern and northern Finland based on microsatellites (FST = 0.100) but also a significant pattern of isolation by distance. Wolverines in western Finland had a genetic signature similar to the northern cluster, which can be explained by former translocations of wolverines from northern to western Finland. For both main clusters, most estimates of the effective population size Ne were below 50. Nevertheless, the genetic diversity was higher in the eastern cluster (HE = 0.57, AR = 4.0, AP = 0.3) than in the northern cluster (HE = 0.49, AR = 3.7, AP = 0.1). Migration between the clusters was low. Two mtDNA haplotypes were found: one common and identical to Scandinavian wolverines; the other rare and not previously detected. The rare haplotype was more prominent in the eastern genetic cluster. Combining all available data, we infer that the genetic population structure within Finland is shaped by a recent bottleneck, isolation by distance, human-aided translocations and postglacial recolonization routes.

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Series: Conservation genetics
ISSN: 1566-0621
ISSN-E: 1572-9737
ISSN-L: 1566-0621
Volume: 21
Pages: 481 - 499
DOI: 10.1007/s10592-020-01264-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. This work was supported by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Academy of Finland (131673), Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Central Fund of the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Finnish Game Foundation, Finnish Foundation for Nature Conservation, Emil Aaltonen Foundation, Kuopion Luonnon Ystäväin yhdistys ry and Oulun Luonnonystävien yhdistys ry.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit