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Hunting Effects on Favourable Conservation Status of Highly Inbred Swedish Wolves
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Population Genetics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9286-3361
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Population Genetics.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Ethology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3476-3925
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2013 (English)In: Conservation Biology, ISSN 0888-8892, E-ISSN 1523-1739, Vol. 27, no 2, 248-253 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The wolf (Canis lupus) is classified as endangered in Sweden by the Swedish Species Information Centre, which is the official authority for threat classification. The present population, which was founded in the early 1980s, descends from 5 individuals. It is isolated and highly inbred, and on average individuals are more related than siblings. Hunts have been used by Swedish authorities during 2010 and 2011 to reduce the population size to its upper tolerable level of 210 wolves. European Union (EU) biodiversity legislation requires all member states to promote a concept called “favourable conservation status” (FCS) for a series of species including the wolf. Swedish national policy stipulates maintenance of viable populations with sufficient levels of genetic variation of all naturally occurring species. Hunting to reduce wolf numbers in Sweden is currently not in line with national and EU policy agreements and will make genetically based FCS criteria less achievable for this species. We suggest that to reach FCS for the wolf in Sweden the following criteria need to be met: (1) a well-connected, large, subdivided wolf population over Scandinavia, Finland, and the Russian Karelia-Kola region should be reestablished, (2) genetically effective size (Ne) of this population is in the minimum range of Ne = 500–1000, (3) Sweden harbors a part of this total population that substantially contributes to the total Ne and that is large enough to not be classified as threatened genetically or according to IUCN criteria, and (4) average inbreeding levels in the Swedish population are <0.1.

Abstract [es]

El lobo (Canis lupus) está clasificado como en peligro en Suecia por el Centro Sueco de Información de Especies, que es la autoridad oficial para la clasificación de amenazas. La población actual, que fue fundada a principio de la década de 1980, desciende de 5 individuos. Esta aislada y tiene altos niveles de endogamia, y en promedio los individuos están más relacionados que los hermanos. Durante 2010 y 2011, las autoridades suecas han usado la cacería para reducir el tamaño de la población hasta su nivel superior tolerable de 210 lobos. La legislación de biodiversidad en la Unión Europea (UE) requiere que todos los países miembros promuevan un concepto denominado “estatus de conservación favorable” (ECF) para una serie de especies incluyendo al lobo. La política nacional sueca establece el mantenimiento de poblaciones viables, con niveles suficientes de variación genética, de todas las especies que ocurren naturalmente. La cacería para reducir el número de lobos en Suecia no se alinea con los acuerdos políticos nacionales y de la UE y es una limitante para que se cumplan los criterios para un ECF basado genéticamente. Sugerimos que para alcanzar el ECF para el lobo en Suecia se requiere cumplir con los siguientes criterios: (1) el restablecimiento de una población grande, subdividida y bien conectada en Escandinavia, Finlandia y la región Karelia-Kola de Rusia, (2) tamaño efectivo genéticamente (Ne) de esta población en el rango mínimo de Ne = 500–1000. (3) Suecia tiene una parte de esta población total que contribuye sustancialmente al Ne total, y que es lo suficientemente grande para no ser clasificada como amenazada genéticamente o de acuerdo con los criterios de la UICN, y (4) los niveles promedio de endogamia en la población sueca son <0.1.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 27, no 2, 248-253 p.
Keyword [en]
Canis lupus, conservation genetics, conservation policy, convention on biological diversity, FCS, genetic management, habitats directive, pedigree analysis
Keyword [es]
Análisis de pedigrí, Canis lupus, Convención de Diversidad Biológica, Directiva de Hábitat, genética de la conservación, manejo genético, políticas de conservación
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88499DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01965.xISI: 000316694600003OAI: diva2:611550
Available from: 2013-03-17 Created: 2013-03-17 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Assessing inbreeding and loss of genetic variation in canids, domestic dog (Canis familiaris) and wolf (Canis lupus), using pedigree data
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assessing inbreeding and loss of genetic variation in canids, domestic dog (Canis familiaris) and wolf (Canis lupus), using pedigree data
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Genetic variation is necessary to maintain the ability of wild and domestic populations to genetically adapt to changed selective pressures. When relationships among individuals are known, conservation genetic management can be based on statistical pedigree analysis. Such approaches have traditionally focused on wild animal conservation breeding in captivity. In this thesis, I apply pedigree-based techniques to domestic and wild animal populations, focusing on two canids – the domestic dog and the wild wolf.

Main objectives include to 1) develop a means for making any pedigree fit the input requirements of the software Population Management x (PMx) and to use this program to 2) investigate rate of inbreeding and loss of genetic variation in dog breeds, including possible correlations between recent inbreeding and health problems, 3) estimate effects on inbreeding of the 2010 hunt of the endangered Swedish wolf population, and to 4) evaluate the potential to genetically support this wolf population through cross-fostering releases of zoo bred pups from a conservation breeding program.

Results include successfully developing the converter program mPed (Paper I) and applying both mPed and PMx to dog and wolf pedigrees. I found extensive loss of genetic variation and moderate rates of recent inbreeding in 26 dog breeds, but no major difference in these parameters between breeds classified as “healthy” vs. “unhealthy“ (Paper II). I found average inbreeding coefficients to more than double (from F=0.03 to 0.07) and founder genetic variation to decrease by c. 30 percent over the past few decades in traditional Swedish dog breeds identified as being of conservation concern (Paper IV). Hunting will make it less likely to reach genetically based Favourable Conservation Status criteria for the Swedish wild wolf population (Paper III), but release of zoo bred wolves through cross-fostering may potentially almost double founder genetic variation of this population (Paper V).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2014. 72 p.
National Category
Research subject
Population Genetics
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-100371 (URN)978-91-7447-858-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-03-07, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Epub ahead of print. Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-02-13 Created: 2014-02-03 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically approved

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Laikre, LindaJansson, MijaJakobsson, SvenRyman, Nils
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