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Genetic consequences of a demographic bottleneck in the Scandinavian arctic fox
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5535-9086
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8270-7613
2006 (English)In: Oikos, ISSN 0030-1299, E-ISSN 1600-0706, Vol. 114, no 1, 84-94 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Demographic bottlenecks can result in a loss of genetic variation due to the bottleneck effect and subsequent genetic drift. The arctic fox population in Scandinavia went through a severe demographic bottleneck in the early 20th century, and is today classified as critically endangered. In this study, we investigated the pre-bottleneck genetic variation in Scandinavia and compared it to modern samples from Scandinavia and North Russia. Variation in the mtDNA control region and five microsatellite loci was examined through ancient DNA analysis on museum specimens. The microsatellite data from the museum specimens was further used to simulate the expected effect of the bottleneck. The arctic foxes in Scandinavia have lost approximately 25% of the microsatellite alleles and four out of seven mtDNA haplotypes. The results also suggest that the genetic differentiation between North Russia and Scandinavia has doubled over the last 100 years. However, the level of heterozygosity was significantly higher than expected from the simulations. This highlights both the advantage of using museum specimens and the importance of generating specific predictions in conservation genetics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 114, no 1, 84-94 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24612DOI: 10.1111/j.2006.0030-1299.14701.xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-24612DiVA: diva2:197929
Available from: 2005-11-05 Created: 2005-11-05 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Distribution and abundance of genetic variation in the arctic fox
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Distribution and abundance of genetic variation in the arctic fox
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates how changes in population size and spatial movements of individuals have shaped the distribution and abundance of neutral genetic variation in the arctic fox. This is done through mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA analyses on samples covering most of the species’ distribution, but with special emphasis on Scandinavia. On the species level, nucleotide diversity was relatively low, which indicated a historical expansion in population size in connection with the onset of the last Ice Age. It is thus possible that the glacial cycles have affected the arctic fox, and other cold-adapted species, in a way opposite to their effect on temperate species. Gene flow seemed to be high among arctic fox populations on a circumpolar scale, especially between populations where lemmings are the main food source, which could be explained by the spatial synchrony in lemming fluctuations. In Scandinavia, the arctic fox went through a severe demographic bottleneck in the beginning of the 20th century. Although some genetic variation was lost during this bottleneck, the loss was much smaller than expected, probably due to post-bottleneck gene flow from Russia. The arctic fox in Scandinavia is divided into four relatively isolated populations. Within each population, dispersal seemed to be high despite the high availability of empty territories close to natal dens, which supported the hypothesis that lemming fluctuations influence arctic fox dispersal. Genetic analyses on samples collected between 1989 and 2004 indicated an ongoing genetic drift and inbreeding within the Scandinavian populations. Furthermore, individual genetic variation was negatively associated with fitness, which could be attributed to an ongoing inbreeding depression. Analyses on faecal samples suggested that arctic foxes move higher up in the mountains and farther from the tree-line during summer compared to winter. This seasonal shift in distribution is probably caused by interspecific competition from the red fox, which is likely to be higher during summer due to red fox predation on arctic fox cubs. The results presented in this thesis have several implications for the conservation of the Scandinavian arctic fox. The finding of four isolated populations within Scandinavia and an ongoing inbreeding depression suggests that the risk of extinction is higher than previously thought. Conservation actions need to be taken in all populations to be effective, and could include genetic restoration through translocation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Zoologiska institutionen, 2005. 32 p.
Keyword
population genetics, DNA, ecology, population history, gene flow, Alopex lagopus
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-726 (URN)91-7155-161-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-12-09, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 14-18, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2005-11-05 Created: 2005-11-05 Last updated: 2011-02-28Bibliographically approved
2. Studies of declining populations - temporal genetic analyses of two arctic mammals
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Studies of declining populations - temporal genetic analyses of two arctic mammals
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many populations and species are threatened with extinction today. Understanding the extinction process and the factors behind population decline is therefore important. In this thesis, genetic analyses were performed on temporally spaced samples to investigate the demographic history and genetic effects of population reduction of two species: the arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) and the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). We used ancient DNA techniques to measure genetic variation in both mitochondrial DNA and microsatellites. In paper I, we investigated the genetic consequences of a human-induced demographic bottleneck in the Scandinavian arctic fox population. By comparing genetic data from museum specimens with genetic data from the contemporary population, we found a loss of genetic variation. However, the loss was less than expected, probably due to gene flow from North Russia. Using the same approach, we also found that Pleistocene arctic foxes from midlatitude Europe do not seem to have contributed to the genetic composition of contemporary populations (paper II). This suggests that they went extinct rather than track their habitat when it shifted northwards at the end of Pleistocene. Further, by analysing genetic data from radiocarbon dated fossils, we also found that the woolly mammoth lost genetic variation in connection to a marked decline in population size at the end of Pleistocene (paper III and IV). However, no further losses were detected during the time that mammoths were isolated on Wrangel Island, which suggests a rapid extinction process possibly caused by the arrival of humans or a short-term change in climate (paper III and IV). The results in this thesis demonstrate the usefulness of temporal genetic analyses for identifying population decline and evaluating its consequences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2010. 16 p.
Keyword
Vulpes lagopus, Mammuthus primigenius, population reduction, extinction, ancient DNA, mitochondrial DNA, microsatellites, genetic variation
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-42499 (URN)978-91-7447-126-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-10-15, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.Available from: 2010-09-23 Created: 2010-09-03 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically approved

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