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      Rescue of a severely bottlenecked wolf ( Canis lupus ) population by a single immigrant

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          Abstract

          The fragmentation of populations is an increasingly important problem in the conservation of endangered species. Under these conditions, rare migration events may have important effects for the rescue of small and inbred populations. However, the relevance of such migration events to genetically depauperate natural populations is not supported by empirical data. We show here that the genetic diversity of the severely bottlenecked and geographically isolated Scandinavian population of grey wolves (Canis lupus), founded by only two individuals, was recovered by the arrival of a single immigrant. Before the arrival of this immigrant, for several generations the population comprised only a single breeding pack, necessarily involving matings between close relatives and resulting in a subsequent decline in individual heterozygosity. With the arrival of just a single immigrant, there is evidence of increased heterozygosity, significant outbreeding (inbreeding avoidance), a rapid spread of new alleles and exponential population growth. Our results imply that even rare interpopulation migration can lead to the rescue and recovery of isolated and endangered natural populations.

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          Most cited references33

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          Inbreeding and extinction in a butterfly metapopulation

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            Mammal population losses and the extinction crisis.

            The disappearance of populations is a prelude to species extinction. No geographically explicit estimates have been made of current population losses of major indicator taxa. Here we compare historic and present distributions of 173 declining mammal species from six continents. These species have collectively lost over 50% of their historic range area, mostly where human activities are intensive. This implies a serious loss of ecosystem services and goods. It also signals a substantial threat to species diversity.
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              Conservation genetics.

              R Frankham (1995)
              Inbreeding depression, accumulation and loss of deleterious mutations, loss of genetic variation in small populations, genetic adaptation to captivity and its effect on reintroduction success, and outbreeding depression are reviewed. The impact of genetic factors in endangerment and extinction has been underestimated in some recent publications. Inbreeding depression in wildlife and in the field has been clearly established, while its impact has been greatly underestimated. The size of populations where genetic factors become important is higher than previously recognized, as Ne/N ratios average 0.11. Purging effects have been overestimated as a mechanism for eliminating deleterious alleles in small populations. The impact of loss of genetic variation in increasing the susceptibility of populations to environmental stochasticity and catastrophes has generally been ignored. Consequently, extinctions are often attributed to "nongenetic" factors when these may have interacted with genetic factors to cause extinction.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
                Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B
                The Royal Society
                0962-8452
                1471-2954
                January 07 2003
                January 07 2003
                January 07 2003
                January 07 2003
                : 270
                : 1510
                : 91-97
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, SE–752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
                [2 ]Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Oulu Game and Fisheries Research, Tutkijantic 2A, FIN–90570 Oulu, Finland
                [3 ]Laboratory of Parasitology, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy
                [4 ]GrimsöResearch Station, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE–730 91 Riddarhyttan, Sweden
                [5 ]Hedmark College, Department of Forestry and Wilderness Management, N–2480 Koppang, Norway
                Article
                10.1098/rspb.2002.2184
                1691214
                12590776
                01fd7b52-8d4a-489b-80e5-02e2f4aef443
                © 2003
                History

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