University of Oulu

Alexander Kopatz, Oddmund Kleven, Ilpo Kojola, Jouni Aspi, Anita J. Norman, Göran Spong, Niclas Gyllenstrand, Love Dalén, Ida Fløystad, Snorre B. Hagen, Jonas Kindberg, Øystein Flagstad, Restoration of transborder connectivity for Fennoscandian brown bears (Ursus arctos), Biological Conservation, Volume 253, 2021, 108936, ISSN 0006-3207,

Restoration of transborder connectivity for Fennoscandian brown bears (Ursus arctos)

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Author: Kopatz, Alexander1; Kleven, Oddmund1; Kojola, Ilpo2;
Organizations: 1Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Trondheim, Norway
2Natural Resources Institute Finland, Rovaniemi, Finland
3Department of Biology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden
5Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden
6Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research, Svanvik, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-01-14


Knowledge about the connectivity among natural populations is essential to identify management units for effective conservation actions. Conservation-minded management has led to the recovery of large carnivore populations in northern Europe, possibly restoring connectivity between the two separated, but expanding brown bear (Ursus arctos) populations on the Scandinavian peninsula to the west and Karelia, a part of the large Eurasian population, to the east. The degree of connectivity between these populations has been poorly understood, therefore we investigated the extent of connectivity between the two populations using autosomal microsatellites and Y chromosome haplotypes in 924 male bears (the dispersing sex), sampled during a period of 12 years (2005–2017) across the transborder area where these two populations meet. Our results showed that the two populations are not genetically isolated as reported in earlier studies. We detected recent asymmetrical gene flow at a rate (individuals per generation) of 4.6–5.5 (1%) from Karelia into Scandinavia, whereas the rate was approximately 27.1–34.5 (8%) in the opposite direction. We estimated historical gene flow of effective number of migrants to be between 1.7 and 2.5 between the populations. Analyses of Y chromosome markers supported these results. Successful recovery and expansion of both populations led to the restoration of connectivity, however, it is asymmetric, possibly due to different recovery histories and population densities. By aligning monitoring between neighboring countries, we were able to better understand the biological processes across the relevant spatial scale.

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Series: Biological conservation
ISSN: 0006-3207
ISSN-E: 1873-2917
ISSN-L: 0006-3207
Volume: 253
Article number: 108936
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108936
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: Funding was provided by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Norwegian Environment Agency.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (