University of Oulu

Åkesson, M., Flagstad, Ø., Aspi, J. et al. Genetic signature of immigrants and their effect on genetic diversity in the recently established Scandinavian wolf population. Conserv Genet 23, 359–373 (2022).

Genetic signature of immigrants and their effect on genetic diversity in the recently established Scandinavian wolf population

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Author: Åkesson, Mikael1; Flagstad, Øystein2; Aspi, Jouni3;
Organizations: 1Grimsö Wildlife Research Station, Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 739 93, Riddarhyttan, Sweden
2Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Torgarden, P.O. Box 5685, 7485, Trondheim, Norway
3Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
4Natural Research Institute Finland (Luke), Ounasjoentie 6, 96200, Rovaniemi, Finland
5Faculty of Applied Ecology, Agricultural Sciences and Biotechnology, Campus Evenstad, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, 2480, Koppang, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-01-11


Transboundary connectivity is a key component when conserving and managing animal species that require large areas to maintain viable population sizes. Wolves Canis lupus recolonized the Scandinavian Peninsula in the early 1980s. The population is geographically isolated and relies on immigration to not lose genetic diversity and to maintain long term viability. In this study we address (1) to what extent the genetic diversity among Scandinavian wolves has recovered during 30 years since its foundation in relation to the source populations in Finland and Russia, (2) if immigration has occurred from both Finland and Russia, two countries with very different wolf management and legislative obligations to ensure long term viability of wolves, and (3) if immigrants can be assumed to be unrelated. Using 26 microsatellite loci we found that although the genetic diversity increased among Scandinavian wolves (n = 143), it has not reached the same levels found in Finland (n = 25) or in Russia (n = 19). Low genetic differentiation between Finnish and Russian wolves, complicated our ability to determine the origin of immigrant wolves (n = 20) with respect to nationality. Nevertheless, based on differences in allelic richness and private allelic richness between the two countries, results supported the occurrence of immigration from both countries. A priori assumptions that immigrants are unrelated is non-advisable, since 5.8% of the pair-wise analyzed immigrants were closely related. To maintain long term viability of wolves in Northern Europe, this study highlights the potential and need for management actions that facilitate transboundary dispersal.

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Series: Conservation genetics
ISSN: 1566-0621
ISSN-E: 1572-9737
ISSN-L: 1566-0621
Volume: 23
Pages: 359 - 373
DOI: 10.1007/s10592-021-01423-5
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 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. This work was funded by funded by the Swedish Research Council Formas (2011-686), the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (nr 802-0193-18), the Norwegian Research Council, the Norwegian Environment Agency, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, County Governor of Hedmark and Marie Claire Cronstedts Foundation.
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