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A Near-extinction Event in Lynx: Do Microsatellite Data Tell the Tale?

Goran Spong, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University
Linda Hellborg, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University

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Fluctuations in population size can have a profound impact on effective population size and the maintenance of genetic variation within a population. A number of tests based on microsatellite data have been developed for the detection of bottleneck events in a population's past. In this paper, we search for signs of a bottleneck in microsatellite data on the Scandinavian lynx (Lynx lynx) population. This population was hunted to the brink of extinction, with fewer than 100 animals (one estimate was as low as 30 individuals) remaining in the late 1920s. Protection allowed recovery of the population, which currently numbers about 2000 adults. Despite this pronounced demographic bottleneck (more than 95% of the population was killed), we could find no conclusive genetic evidence of a bottleneck using four of the recently developed tests for detecting such events.

Key words

bottleneck, conservation, extinction, genetic testing, lynx, microsatellite data, population history, Scandinavia
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087