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Fine-scale genetic structure suggests low levels of short-range gene flow in a wolf population of the Italian Apennines

Scandura, Massimo and Iacolina, Laura and Capitani, Claudia and Gazzola, Andrea and Mattioli, Luca and Apollonio, Marco (2011) Fine-scale genetic structure suggests low levels of short-range gene flow in a wolf population of the Italian Apennines. European Journal of Wildlife Research, Vol. 57 (4), p. 949-958. ISSN 1612-4642. eISSN 1439-0574. Article.

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DOI: 10.1007/s10344-011-0509-y


We investigated local gene flow in a high-density wolf (Canis lupus) population of the Italian Apennines, where no effective barrier to wolf dispersal was present. From 1998 to 2004 we examined wolf carcasses and noninvasively collected samples, focusing on three mountain districts, separated by two valleys, where wolf packs showed high spatial stability. Using nine autosomal microsatellites we successfully genotyped 177 samples, achieving the identification of 74 wolves. Genetic relatedness steeply decreased with increasing distance between sampling areas, thus suggesting that short-distance interpack migration is infrequent in this population. In addition, no individual from a central pack under intensive monitoring was sampled in the range of the surrounding packs over a 4-year period. The limited short-distance gene flow resulted in a cryptic genetic structure, which was revealed by Bayesian analysis. A different genetic cluster was found in each of the three mountain areas, and a small proportion of first-generation immigrants was detected. Overall, the present study suggests that local genetic differentiation in Italian wolves might arise from high spatial stability of packs and can be favoured by a combination of long-range dispersal, the attitude to mate between unrelated individuals and a high young mortality rate.

Item Type:Article
ID Code:6124
Uncontrolled Keywords:Canis lupus, autosomal microsatellites, cryptic genetic structure, dispersal, non-invasive genotyping
Subjects:Area 05 - Scienze biologiche > BIO/05 Zoologia
Divisions:001 Università di Sassari > 01 Dipartimenti > Zoologia e genetica evoluzionistica
Publisher:Springer Berlin / Heidelberg
Copyright Holders:© Springer-Verlag 2011
Deposited On:09 Jun 2011 09:13

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