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Genetic analysis for geographic isolation comparison of brown bears living in the periphery of the Western Carpathians Mountains with bears living in other areas

Author(s): Ján Graban | Jana Kisková | Pavol Pepich | Robin Rigg

Journal: Open Journal of Genetics
ISSN 2162-4453

Volume: 03;
Issue: 03;
Start page: 174;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Carpathian Mountains | European Brown Bear | Ursus arctos L. | Genetic Diversity | Microsatellite Markers | Non-Invasive Sampling

Populations of the European brown bear (Ursus arctos L.) differ substantially in size, degree of geographic isolation and level of genetic diversity. Present patterns result from phylogeographic processes and profound human intervention. We assessed the genetic variability of a subpopulation of brown bears near the periphery of their range in the Western Carpathian Mountains and compared their genetic properties with those of bears in the core of the same population and elsewhere. Samples were collected non-invasively in 2007-2008 and2010 in Strázovské Vrchy Protected Landscape Area (PLA) in Slovakia (included in the NATURA 2000 networking programme). Seven polymorphic microsatellite loci (UaMU26, UaMU64, G10B, G1D, G10L, UaMU50 and UaMU51) were amplified using a nested PCR in order to assess the following parameters: variability, allelic combinations, heterozygosity, number of alleles and inbreeding coefficient. Sufficient brown bear DNA for analysis was obtained from 57 out of 140 samples (41%), among which 45 different genotypes were identified. Loci had a mean of 2.71 ± 0.76 alleles. Average observed heterozygosity was 0.59. The inbreeding coefficient was negative for all but one of the analysed loci (2007-2008). In the year 2010 was negative three of seven loci. These results imply that gene flow with other parts of the population has been maintained in the reduced level and the isolation level of bears in the study area was not so low. Nevertheless, the genetic variability of bears in Strázovské Vrchy PLA was lower than that reported from other localities in the Carpathian Mountains. The results are discussed in the context of behavioural ecology and conservation genetics.
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