Conservation Genetics

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 581–591 | Cite as

Significant genetic admixture after reintroduction of peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) in Southern Scandinavia

  • Frode JacobsenEmail author
  • Marit Nesje
  • Lutz Bachmann
  • Jan T. Lifjeld
Research Article


The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) population in southern Scandinavia was almost extinct in the 1970’s. A successful reintroduction project was launched in 1974, using captive breeding birds of northern and southern Scandinavian, Finnish and Scottish origin. We examined the genetic structure in the pre-bottleneck population using eleven microsatellite markers and compared the data with the previously genotyped captive breeding population and contemporary wild population. Museum specimens between 53 and 130 years old were analyzed. Despite an apparent loss of historical genetic diversity, the contemporary population shows a relatively high level of genetic variation. Considerable gene introgression from captive breeding stock used to repopulate the former range of southern Scandinavian peregrines may have altered the genetic composition of this population. Both the historical and contemporary northern and southern Scandinavian populations are genetically differentiated. The reintroduction project implemented in the region and the use of non-native genetic stock likely prevented the southern Scandinavian population from extinction and thus helped maintain the level of genetic diversity and prevent inbreeding depression. The population is rapidly increasing in numbers and range and shows no indication of reduced fitness or adaptive capabilities in the wake of the severe bottleneck and the reintroduction.


Admixture Falco peregrinus Microsatellites Museum specimens Population bottleneck Reintroductions 



We thank M. A. Torres and R. Vallender for invaluable analytical support, J. Wang for technical advice, and the Lifjeld Research Group for valuable comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. The project was supported by the National Centre for Biosystematics (project no. 146515/420), co-funded by the NRC and the NHM, University of Oslo, Norway.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frode Jacobsen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marit Nesje
    • 3
  • Lutz Bachmann
    • 1
  • Jan T. Lifjeld
    • 1
  1. 1.Natural History MuseumUniversity of OsloBlindernNorway
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.The Norwegian School of Veterinary ScienceOsloNorway

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