University of Oulu

Astrid Vik Stronen, Jouni Aspi, Romolo Caniglia, Elena Fabbri, Marco Galaverni, Raquel Godinho, Laura Kvist, Federica Mattucci, Carsten Nowak, Alina von Thaden, Jenni Harmoinen,Wolf-dog admixture highlights the need for methodological standards and multidisciplinary cooperation for effective governance of wild x domestic hybrids, Biological Conservation, Volume 266, 2022, 109467, ISSN 0006-3207,

Wolf-dog admixture highlights the need for methodological standards and multidisciplinary cooperation for effective governance of wild x domestic hybrids

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Author: Stronen, Astrid Vik1; Aspi, Jouni2; Caniglia, Romolo3;
Organizations: 1Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Večna pot 111, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
2Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, P.O. Box 3000, University of Oulu, 90140 Oulu, Finland
3Unit for Conservation Genetics (BIO-CGE), Department for the Monitoring and Protection of the Environment and for Biodiversity Conservation, Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Bologna, via Ca' Fornacetta 9, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Italy
4Science Area, WWF Italy, Via Po 25/c, 00198 Rome, Italy
5CIBIO/InBIO, Centro de Investigaҫao em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto, Campus de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
6Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
7Wildlife Genetics Center, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Clamecystrasse 12, 63571 Gelnhausen, Germany
8LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE-TBG), Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
9Natural Resources Institute Finland, Latokartanonkaari 9, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-04-19


Hybridisation between wild and domestic taxa raises complex questions for conservation. Genetic advances offer new methods for hybrid identification, yet social and cultural factors can influence study design, and the interpretation, application, and communication of results. A relevant illustration is hybridisation between domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and wild canids, such as grey wolves (C. lupus). For regional European monitoring programs in areas with expanding wolf populations, priorities include shared genetic markers and inclusion of all relevant reference populations to ensure dispersing wolves are identified as such and not classified as wolf-dog hybrids, which may cause harmful management decisions. Beyond technical developments, hybrid research and conservation management can benefit from improved integration of legal and policy perspectives, recognition of phenotypic traits as broadly unreliable for identification, and attention to the drivers of, and responses to, evolution in human-dominated landscapes. Additionally, the proliferation of unsubstantiated reports about hybrids in popular and social media shows that communication based on verified findings of hybridisation is essential. Hybridisation requires more constructive discussion on how to balance potentially competing conservation objectives, and the integration of multidisciplinary perspectives. These encompass the welfare of individual animals and preservation of historical predator-prey relationships. Conservation measures centred on preserving the ecological function of wild canids likely offer the most sustainable prospects but require improved understanding of the extent to which their behavioural ecology might differ from that of hybrids. Accurate genetic identification is required to fill this critical knowledge gap, advance public discourse, and initiate relevant conservation actions.

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Series: Biological conservation
ISSN: 0006-3207
ISSN-E: 1873-2917
ISSN-L: 0006-3207
Volume: 266
Article number: 109467
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109467
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: R.G. was supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, FCT. A.V.T. received partial funding by the Karl und Marie Schack-Stiftung.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (