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Microsatellite and mtDNA analysis of the population structure of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) from three breeding areas in the Baltic Sea
University St Andrews, Scotland.
University St Andrews, Scotland.
University St Andrews, Scotland.
Estonian Fund Nature, Tartu, Estonia.
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2009 (English)In: Conservation Genetics, ISSN 1566-0621, E-ISSN 1572-9737, Vol. 10, 59-68 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The growing number of grey seals in the Baltic Sea has led to a dramatic increase in interactions between seals and fisheries. The conflict has become such a problem that hunting was introduced in Finland in 1998 and the Swedish Environment Protection Agency recommended a cull of grey seals starting in 2001. Culling has been implemented despite the lack of data on population structure. Low levels of migration between regions would mean that intensive culling in specific geographic areas would have disproportionate effects on local population structure and genetic diversity. We used eight microsatellite loci and a 489 bp section of the mtDNA control region to examine the genetic variability and differentiation between three breeding sites in the Baltic Sea and two in the UK. We found high levels of genetic variability in all sampled Baltic groups for both the microsatellites and the control region. There were highly significant differences in microsatellite allele frequencies between all three Baltic breeding sites and between the Baltic sites and the UK sites. However, there were no significant differences in mtDNA control region haplotypes between the Baltic sites. This genetic substructure of the Baltic grey seal populations should be taken into consideration when managing the seal population to prevent the hunting regime from having an adverse effect on genetic diversity by setting hunting quotas separately for the different subpopulations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 10, 59-68 p.
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Research subject
Animal Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-35597DOI: 10.1007/s10592-008-9517-1ISI: 000263865100005OAI: diva2:287595
Available from: 2010-01-19 Created: 2010-01-19 Last updated: 2011-06-14Bibliographically approved

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