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Proc Biol Sci. 2010 Aug 7;277(1692):2331-7. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0301. Epub 2010 Mar 31.

Temporal genetic change in the last remaining population of woolly mammoth.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden. veronica.nystrom@zoologi.su.se


During the Late Pleistocene, the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) experienced a series of local extinctions generally attributed to human predation or environmental change. Some small and isolated populations did however survive far into the Holocene. Here, we investigated the genetic consequences of the isolation of the last remaining mammoth population on Wrangel Island. We analysed 741 bp of the mitochondrial DNA and found a loss of genetic variation in relation to the isolation event, probably caused by a demographic bottleneck or a founder event. However, in spite of ca 5000 years of isolation, we did not detect any further loss of genetic variation. Together with the relatively high number of mitochondrial haplotypes on Wrangel Island near the final disappearance, this suggests a sudden extinction of a rather stable population.

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