Molecular evidence for historic long-distance translocations of brown bears in the Balkan region
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We tested the hypothesis that brown bears were translocated from the Romanian Carpathians to Bulgaria via air transportation during the communist regime in the 1970s and 1980s. Microsatellite analysis was performed on 199 bear samples from Bulgaria and Romania. Assignment and admixture tests revealed the existence of seven genotypes (=2.8 %) in Bulgaria that were assigned with high probabilities to the Romanian population, supporting the translocation and successful establishment of Carpathian bears in Bulgaria. While we cannot rule out the possibility that active long-distance dispersal contributed to the observed pattern, the spatial distribution and sex ratio of the detected Romanian genotypes strongly favor the translocation hypothesis.
KeywordsUrsus arctos Large carnivores Balkan Assignment test Bear conservation
The Romanian samples were kindly provided by Árpád Sárkány, the “Târnava Mare” Hunting and Angling Association, Romsilva—Romanian National Forest Administration, Károly Pál, Károly Illyés, Szilárd Bordi-Zima, and Miklós Bálint. Valuable assistance was recieved from Márton Atilla Kelemen. Samples were collected within the frame of Milvus Group’s Brown bear conservation and research program, which is financially supported from EuroNatur (Germany), Alertis, fund for bear and nature conservation (Netherlands), International Association for Bear Research and Management, Nando Peretti Foundation, and the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS). Sampling in Bulgaria was assisted by Kostadin Valchev, Diana Zlatanova, Elena Tsingarska-Sedefcheva, Lubomir Petrov, Genadi Gavrilov, Yanko Yankov, Venislava Racheva (Balkani Wildlife Society), Georgi Georgiev, Dimitar Pamporo (Regional Environment Inspectorate Smolian Team), Ruslan Serbezov (Ministry of Environment and Water), Rosen Andreev (Chepino Hunting Enterprize) and several more. Wolfgang Fremuth and Michael Brombacher (FZS) provided administrative assistance. Sequencing service was provided by the Biodiversity and Climate Research Institute Frankfurt. CF received funding from the Johanna Samel-Stiftung. Additional funding comes from LIFE EX-TRA project LIFE/NAT/IT/000502 funded by the European Union and from Hesse’s LOEWE excellence initiative.
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