Severe inbreeding depression in a wild wolf (Canis lupus) population

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The difficulty of obtaining pedigrees for wild populations has hampered the possibility of demonstrating inbreeding depression in nature. In a small, naturally restored, wild population of grey wolves in Scandinavia, founded in 1983, we constructed a pedigree for 24 of the 28 breeding pairs established in the period 1983-2002. Ancestry for the breeding animals was determined through a combination of field data (snow tracking and radio telemetry) and DNA microsatellite analysis. The population was founded by only three individuals. The inbreeding coefficient F varied between 0.00 and 0.41 for wolves born during the study period. The number of surviving pups per litter during their first winter after birth was strongly correlated with inbreeding coefficients of pups (R-2 = 0. 39, p < 0.00 1). This inbreeding depression was recalculated to match standard estimates of lethal equivalents (213), corresponding to 6.04 (2.58-9.48, 95% CI) litter-size-reducing equivalents in this wolf population.


  • O Liberg
  • H Andren
  • HC Pedersen
  • H Sand
  • Douglas Sejberg
  • P Wabakken
  • Mikael Åkesson
  • Staffan Bensch
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-20
JournalBiology letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Publication categoryResearch

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