, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 55-63
Date: 03 Nov 2012

Genetic characterization of populations of the golden jackal and the red fox in Israel

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Abstract

The golden jackal and red fox are among the wildlife species protected by Israeli law as enforced by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. In 1964, as a part of a management program to control rabies in Israel, a poison eradication campaign was launched to exterminate golden jackals, considered to be the main reservoir of the disease. The program resulted in the near-complete extermination of jackals in Israel, while foxes were only mildly affected. Jackals have since regained their original numbers and have recolonized southern Israel. We here examined the population structure of the golden jackal and red fox in Israel, 48 years after the poison eradication campaign. DNA from 88 golden jackals and 89 red foxes representing five different geographic regions was extracted and amplified at 13 microsatellite loci in order to characterize the populations on a genetic level. High genetic diversity was found among the jackal and fox populations. A possible migration route through the Jordan Rift Valley was suggested for both species by the genetic similarity of populations in northern and southern Israel. However, in both species, the animals from the center of Israel were distinctive from those north or south, indicating the relative isolation of central populations, likely due to fragmentation or a high abundance of food resources. Genetic profiles obtained for the golden jackal and the red fox in Israel may aid in their conservation management and in the study of zoonotic diseases.