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Landscape genetics applied to a recovering otter (Lutra lutra) population in the UK: Preliminary results and potential methodologies

Hobbs, Geoffrey, Chadwick, Elizabeth Anna ORCID:, Slater, Frederick Maurice and Bruford, Michael William ORCID: 2006. Landscape genetics applied to a recovering otter (Lutra lutra) population in the UK: Preliminary results and potential methodologies. Hystrix : the Italian Journal of Mammalogy 17 (1) 10.4404/hystrix-17.1-4364

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The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) has declined significantly across its European range. In the UK, the decline was particularly severe during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and by the mid 1970’s the population was largely confined to strongholds in parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, mid and West Wales and south west England. In recent years the otter population has started to recover, with otter surveys confirming an increased distribution of otters in Wales, Scotland and England. In England, population expansion and recolonisation is believed to be occurring both through breeding and by dispersal, from the west (south west England and the Welsh borders) and from the north (Scotland). However, little is known about the degree of genetic loss due to the decline, potential barriers to recolonisation, routes of dispersal, or the contribution of reintroduction programmes to population increases. This project aims to use tissues collected since 1994 (complete with geographic location) from over 500 otters found dead on roads in Wales and England, to analyse the genetic diversity and structure of otter populations. Using molecular genetic analysis of the otter population, we will identify whether and when bottlenecks occurred, whether population decline has resulted in a loss of genetic variability, and to what degree. Preliminaryanalysis from 177 otters has shown that observed is generally lower than expected het- erozygosity, and that the population is in Hardy Weinberg equilibrium for 11 out of the 15 loci. Spatial patterns in genetic data will be analysed, to identify clines, isolation by distance and genetic boundaries to gene flow, the contribution of released animals will also beassessed. Geographical information systems (GIS) will be used to map spatial genetic pat- terns and to generate hypotheses about the potential cause of genetic boundaries such as landscape or environmental features.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Publisher: Associazione Teriologica Italiana
ISSN: 0394-1914
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 02:50

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