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Y chromosome haplotype distribution of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Northern Europe provides insight into population history and recovery

Schregel, Julia, Eiken, Hans Geir, Grøndahl, Finn Audun, Hailer, Frank, Aspi, Jouni, Kojola, Ilpo, Tirronen, Konstantin, Danilov, Piotr, Rykov, Alexander, Poroshin, Eugene, Janke, Axel, Swenson, Jon E. and Hagen, Snorre B. 2015. Y chromosome haplotype distribution of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Northern Europe provides insight into population history and recovery. Molecular Ecology 24 (24) , pp. 6041-6060. 10.1111/mec.13448

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High‐resolution, male‐inherited Y‐chromosomal markers are a useful tool for population genetic analyses of wildlife species, but to date have only been applied in this context to relatively few species besides humans. Using nine Y‐chromosomal STRs and three Y‐chromosomal single nucleotide polymorphism markers (Y‐SNPs), we studied whether male gene flow was important for the recent recovery of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Northern Europe, where the species declined dramatically in numbers and geographical distribution during the last centuries but is expanding now. We found 36 haplotypes in 443 male extant brown bears from Sweden, Norway, Finland and northwestern Russia. In 14 individuals from southern Norway from 1780 to 1920, we found two Y chromosome haplotypes present in the extant population as well as four Y chromosome haplotypes not present among the modern samples. Our results suggested major differences in genetic connectivity, diversity and structure between the eastern and the western populations in Northern Europe. In the west, our results indicated that the recovered population originated from only four male lineages, displaying pronounced spatial structuring suggestive of large‐scale population size increase under limited male gene flow within the western subpopulation. In the east, we found a contrasting pattern, with high haplotype diversity and admixture. This first population genetic analysis of male brown bears shows conclusively that male gene flow was not the main force of population recovery.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
ISSN: 0962-1083
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 26 October 2015
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2020 01:48

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