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Ancient DNA reveals lack of postglacial habitat tracking in the arctic fox
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8270-7613
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
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2007 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 104, no 16, 6726-6729 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

How species respond to an increased availability of habitat, for example at the end of the last glaciation, has been well established. In contrast, little is known about the opposite process, when the amount of habitat decreases. The hypothesis of habitat tracking predicts that species should be able to track both increases and decreases in habitat availability. The alternative hypothesis is that populations outside refugia become extinct during periods of unsuitable climate. To test these hypotheses, we used ancient DNA techniques to examine genetic variation in the arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) through an expansion/contraction cycle. The results show that the arctic fox in midlatitude Europe became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene and did not track the habitat when it shifted to the north. Instead, a high genetic similarity between the extant populations in Scandinavia and Siberia suggests an eastern origin for the Scandinavian population at the end of the last glaciation. These results provide new insights into how species respond to climate change, since they suggest that populations are unable to track decreases in habitat avaliability. This implies that arctic species may be particularly vulnerable to increases in global temperatures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 104, no 16, 6726-6729 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-29683DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0701341104ISI: 000245869200043ISBN: 0027-8424 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-29683DiVA: diva2:234731
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Fjällräv
Available from: 2009-09-10 Created: 2009-09-10 Last updated: 2017-12-13
In thesis
1. 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)
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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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