Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wolves are suffering less from inbreeding than expected

21.12.2006
Increasing levels of inbreeding is a threat against the viabi lity of the Scandinavian wolf population. A study just coming out in the new journal PLoS ONE now demonstrates that inbreeding is not affecting the wolves as badly as expected.

The results show that it is the most genetically variable wolf individuals that are recruited into the breeding population. An important consequence of this action of natural selection is that the negative effects of inbreeding are accumulating much slower than previously believed.

The wolf was exterminated in the Scandinavian peninsula by the 1960-ies. The present Scandinavian population of approximately 150 animals was founded by three immigrants from the larger Russian-Finnish population; a pair around 1980 and a single male ten years later. With so few individuals founding the population the level of inbreeding is high. By the use of DNA-analyses the research team has previously reconstructed a pedigree of the whole population. This kind of detailed information about wild animals is quite unique, but a necessary prerequisite for calculations of so called inbreeding coefficients.

- The inbreeding coefficient is a measure of the proportion of the DNA that is inbred. It varies between 0 and 100%. If a brother and sister are mating, their offspring will have an inbreeding coefficient of 25%. This is about the average level for the present wolf population in Scandinavia. And our analyses have shown that inbreeding is negative, inbred wolves produce less number of pups, says Staffan Bensch, one of the spokespersons of the research team..

The inbreeding coefficients are calculated from the sorted out pedigree. Another way to estimate the proportion of the DNA that is inbred is with DNA-techniques. The research team used samples from blood, hair and scats and examined the DNA at several places to measure the level of genetic variation of individuals. Together with the previous analyses based on inbreeding coefficients the new direct m easures of genetic variation delivered some surprising results.

- For each level of inbreeding it appears to be the wolves with the highest amount of genetic variation that establish themselves as breeders, Staffan Bensch concludes. Whether this is because the genetically diverse wolves are more healthy and stronger and thus more likely to become reproductively active, or if they are more preferred as mates by the opposite sex, we do not know.

- Even if selection is favouring the wolves that are genetically diverse, genetic variation will inevitably be lost over time in such a small population as this one. But it will take much longer than previously thought. This is an important observation since if novel genes are added by introducing a new wolf from a nearby population, the positive effects will be maintained longer than previously estimated.

- We think our results are relevant also for other threatened populations of carnivores. Such spe cies require large areas for their territories and most natural reserves are of a size in which only a few territories can be accommodated. Without immigration inbreeding will increase. If the pattern seen in the Scandinavian wolf population holds to be general, active introductions is only required to be done at rather long intervals in order to maintain the genetic variation of populations.

The study has been carried out by Swedish and Norwegian researchers lead by Staffan Bensch (Lund University, Sweden) and Olof Liberg (Grimsö Wildlife Research Station, Sweden) as a part of the SKANDULV project (http://skandulv.nina.no/skandulv%20new/STARTSIDER/START%20ENGLISH/index_english.htm).

Staffan Bensch | alfa
Further information:
http://www.lu.se

Further reports about: Scandinavian coefficient genetic variation inbreeding

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>