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Mol Ecol. 1999 Aug;8(8):1309-15.

Population genetic structure and the effect of founder events on the genetic variability of moose, Alces alces, in Canada.

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Biopsychology Programme, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.


Moose, Alces alces, occur naturally throughout most of Canada but successful introductions of known numbers of animals have been made to the islands of Newfoundland and Cape Breton. Five microsatellite loci were used to investigate the population genetic structure and any change in genetic variability due to founder events of moose in Canada. Comparisons of allele frequencies for moose from 11 regions of the country suggested that there are at least seven genetically distinct populations (P < 0.05) in North America, namely Alberta, eastern Ontario, New Brunswick, Cape Breton, Labrador, western Newfoundland, and the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. The average population heterozygosity was approximately 33% (range from 22 to 41%). UPGMA analysis of Nei's genetic distances produced phenograms similar to what would be expected when geographical location and population history are considered. The loss of heterozygosity due to a single founder event (n = 3; two introductions and a natural colonization) ranged from 14 to 30%, and the cumulative loss of heterozygosity due to two successive founder events (an introduction followed by a natural colonization) was 46%. In these examples loss of genetic variability has not been associated with any known phenotypic deviances, suggesting that populations may be established from a small number of founders. However, the viability of these founded populations over evolutionary timescales cannot be determined and is highly dependent upon chance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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