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Temporal genetic change in the last remaining population of woolly mammoth
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8270-7613
Department of Geography, Herzen University, nab. Moyki, 48, St Petersburg.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies.
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2010 (English)In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 277, no 1692, 2331-2337 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During the Late Pleistocene, the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) experienced a series of local extinctions generally attributed to human predation or environmental change. Some small and isolated populations did however survive far into the Holocene. Here, we investigated the genetic consequences of the isolation of the last remaining mammoth population on Wrangel Island. We analysed 741 bp of the mitochondrial DNA and found a loss of genetic variation in relation to the isolation event, probably caused by a demographic bottleneck or a founder event. However, in spite of ca 5000 years of isolation, we did not detect any further loss of genetic variation. Together with the relatively high number of mitochondrial haplotypes on Wrangel Island near the final disappearance, this suggests a sudden extinction of a rather stable population.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 277, no 1692, 2331-2337 p.
Keyword [en]
Wrangel Island, ancient DNA, mitochondrial DNA, genetic variation, Mammuthus primigenius
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38393DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0301ISI: 000279243300009OAI: diva2:310179
Available from: 2010-04-13 Created: 2010-04-13 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically approved
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.
Vulpes lagopus, Mammuthus primigenius, population reduction, extinction, ancient DNA, mitochondrial DNA, microsatellites, genetic variation
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
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)
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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Nyström, VeronicaDalén, LoveLidén, KerstinRyman, NilsAngerbjörn, Anders
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