Acta Theriologica

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 3–22

Genetic diversity and relatedness within packs in an intensely hunted population of wolvesCanis lupus

Authors

  • Włodzimierz Jędrzejewski
    • Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of Sciences
  • Wojciech Branicki
    • Institute of Forensic Research
  • Claudia Veit
    • Institute of Animal BreedingLudwig-Maximilians-University Munich
  • Ivica MeĐugorac
    • Institute of Animal BreedingLudwig-Maximilians-University Munich
  • Małgorzata Pilot
    • Museum and Institute of ZoologyPolish Academy of Sciences
  • Aleksei N. Bunevich
    • State National Park Belovezhskaya Pushcha
  • Bogumiła Jędrzejewska
    • Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of Sciences
  • Krzysztof Schmidt
    • Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of Sciences
  • Jörn Theuerkauf
    • Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of Sciences
  • Henryk Okarma
    • Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of Sciences
  • Roman Gula
    • Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of Sciences
  • Lucyna Szymura
    • Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of Sciences
  • Martin Förster
    • Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of Sciences
Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF03192614

Cite this article as:
Jędrzejewski, W., Branicki, W., Veit, C. et al. Acta Theriol (2005) 50: 3. doi:10.1007/BF03192614

Abstract

A population of grey wolvesCanis lupus Linnaeus, 1758 inhabiting Białowieża Primeval Forest (BPF) on the Polish-Belarussian border has recovered after near extermination in the 1970s. Currently, it is intensively hunted in the Belarussian part of BPF and protected in the Polish part. We used a combination of molecular analysis, radiotracking, and field observation to study genetic diversity of the population after natural recolonisation and the consequences of heavy hunting for the genetic composition and social structure of wolf packs. Both microsatellite and mtDNA analyses revealed high genetic diversity. For 29 individuals and 20 microsatellite loci, the mean expected heterozygosity was 0.733. Four mtDNA haplotypes were found. Three of them had earlier been described from Europe. Their geographic distribution suggests that wolves recolonising BPF immigrated mainly from the north-east, and less effectively from the east and south-east. We traced the composition of 6 packs for a total of 26 pack-years. Packs were family units (a breeding pair with offspring) with occasional adoption of unrelated adult males, which occurred more frequently in packs living in the Belarussian part of the BPF, due to heavy hunting and poaching. Breeding pairs were half-sibs or unrelated wolves. Pair-bonds in the breeding pair lasted from 1 to 4 years and usually broke by the death of one or both mates. Successors of breeding females were their daughters, while a successor of a breeding male could be either his son or an alien wolf. As is evident from Białowieża’s wolves, high genetic diversity may result from immigration of outside individuals, which are easily recruited to a heavily exploited local population.

Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Bialowieza, Poland 2005