University of Oulu

Granroth-Wilding, H., Primmer, C., Lindqvist, M. et al. Non-invasive genetic monitoring involving citizen science enables reconstruction of current pack dynamics in a re-establishing wolf population. BMC Ecol 17, 44 (2017).

Non-invasive genetic monitoring involving citizen science enables reconstruction of current pack dynamics in a re-establishing wolf population

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Author: Granroth-Wilding, Hanna1; Primmer, Craig1; Lindqvist, Meri1,2;
Organizations: 1Department of Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
2Department of Biosciences & Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Natural Resources Institute (Luke), Rovaniemi, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2017
Publish Date: 2021-03-01


Background: Carnivores are re-establishing in many human-populated areas, where their presence is often contentious. Reaching consensus on management decisions is often hampered by a dispute over the size of the local carnivore population. Understanding the reproductive dynamics and individual movements of the carnivores can provide support for management decisions, but individual-level information can be difficult to obtain from elusive, wide-ranging species. Non-invasive genetic sampling can yield such information, but makes subsequent reconstruction of population history challenging due to incomplete population coverage and error-prone data. Here, we combine a collaborative, volunteer-based sampling scheme with Bayesian pedigree reconstruction to describe the pack dynamics of an establishing grey wolf (Canis lupus) population in south-west Finland, where wolf breeding was recorded in 2006 for the first time in over a century.

Results: Using DNA extracted mainly from faeces collected since 2008, we identified 81 individual wolves and assigned credible full parentages to 70 of these and partial parentages to a further 9, revealing 7 breeding pairs. Individuals used a range of strategies to obtain breeding opportunities, including dispersal to established or new packs, long-distance migration and inheriting breeding roles. Gene flow occurred between all packs but inbreeding events were rare.

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that characterizing ongoing pack dynamics can provide detailed, locally-relevant insight into the ecology of contentious species such as the wolf. Involving various stakeholders in data collection makes these results more likely to be accepted as unbiased and hence reliable grounds for management decisions.

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Series: BMC ecology
ISSN: 1472-6785
ISSN-E: 1472-6785
ISSN-L: 1472-6785
Volume: 17
Pages: 1 - 15
Article number: 44
DOI: 10.1186/s12898-017-0154-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Funding for the initial stages of the laboratory work was awarded by Varsinais-Suomen maakuntaliitto and for the pedigree analysis from the University of Turku strategic research funds. OT was funded by a Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Program. We thank the Finnish Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry and the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) for their support.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.