Graytock - Molecular Ecology(2005 14 9 17 doi...

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Molecular Ecology (2005) 14 , 9–17 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2004.02389.x © 2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd Blackwell Publishing, Ltd. FAST TRACK GENETIC DIVERSITY IN EXTIRPATED US grey WOLVES Legacy lost: genetic variability and population size of extirpated US grey wolves ( Canis lupus ) JENNIFER A. LEONARD, *†§ CARLES VILÀ and ROBERT K. WAYNE * * Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1606, USA; Genetics Program, Department of Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008–0551, USA; Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, S-75236 Uppsala, Sweden Abstract By the mid 20th century, the grey wolf ( Canis lupus ) was exterminated from most of the conterminous United States (cUS) and Mexico. However, because wolves disperse over long distances, extant populations in Canada and Alaska might have retained a substantial proportion of the genetic diversity once found in the cUS. We analysed mitochondrial DNA sequences of 34 pre-extermination wolves and found that they had more than twice the diversity of their modern conspecifics, implying a historic population size of several hundred thousand wolves in the western cUS and Mexico. Further, two-thirds of the haplotypes found in the historic sample are unique. Sequences from Mexican grey wolves ( C. l. baileyi ) and some historic grey wolves defined a unique southern clade supporting a much wider geographical mandate for the reintroduction of Mexican wolves than currently planned. Our results highlight the genetic consequences of population extinction within Ice Age refugia and imply that restoration goals for grey wolves in the western cUS include far less area and target vastly lower population sizes than existed historically. Keywords : ancient DNA, genetic diversity, glacial refugia, Mexican wolves, mitochondrial DNA, predator control Received 14 July 2004; revision received 30 September 2004; accepted 30 September 2004 Introduction Intense predator eradication programs combined with habitat loss and fragmentation have caused the decline of the grey wolf ( Canis lupus ) throughout most of its his- toric range in North America and its near extinction in the cUS (Boitani 2003). A predicted outcome of such population declines is the loss of genetic diversity that, in the extreme, can lead to a decrease in individual fitness and evolutionary potential, as well as an increased risk of population extinction (Frankham et al . 2002). Species characterized by limited mobility and strong population genetic structure are more likely to suffer a substantial loss in genetic diversity as a result of range reductions (Taylor et al . 1994; Bouzat et al . 1998; Wisely et al . 2002). In contrast, species with high mobility can potentially exchange genes across large geographical areas and consequently, their eradication over a limited area may not result in a sig- nificant loss of unique genetic diversity.
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