Conservation Genetics

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 179–188 | Cite as

Genetic structure of European pine martens (Martes martes), and evidence for introgression with M. americana in England

  • C.J. Kyle
  • A. Davison
  • C. Strobeck


European pine martens (Martes martes)were once distributed across much ofwestern Europe. A combination of factors, suchas persecution, trapping, and habitat loss haveled to sharp declines in the species' numbersand range and, as such, local populations havebecome more vulnerable to extinction. Toevaluate the influence of these factors on boththe level of genetic variation and populationstructure, we genotyped pine martens fromacross much of their current distribution. Continental M. martes populations werefound to have a higher level of geneticstructure and lower genetic variation thantheir North American sibling species, M.americana, sampled throughout Canada. Thedifferences among mainland populations of thesespecies may lie in greater levels of habitatfragmentation and persecution experienced byEuropean martens, though it is difficult toexclude more ancient processes such as theinfluence of glaciations. Among islandpopulations of the two species, the Scottishpopulation revealed a similar level ofstructure and variation to the M. a.atrata population of Newfoundland, howeverIreland was more differentiated with lessgenetic variation. Our work usingmicrosatellites also extends previous mtDNAevidence for the presence of M. americanahaplotypes in England, raising the possibilityof hybridization with M. martes. Thesefindings may influence current discussions onthe status of English martens and theappropriateness of proposed re-introductions byrevealing that some indigenous martens persistin England, despite the presence of somepotential hybrids in the region.

genetic structure Martes martes microsatellite mustelid pine marten 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson E (1970) Quaternary evolution of the genus Martes (Carnivora, Mustelidae). Acta Zool. Fenn., 130, 1–132.Google Scholar
  2. Bakeyev N, Sinitsyn AA (1994) Status and conservation of sables in the Commonwealth of Independent States. In: Martens, Sables, and Fishers: Biology and Conservation (eds. Buskirk SW, Harestad AS, Raphael MG, Powell RA), pp. 246–261. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.Google Scholar
  3. Bright P, Halliwell E, Mitchell-Jones T (2000) Return of the Pine Marten to England: Proposed Recovery Programme for one of Britan's Rarest Mammals. Public consultation document by The People's Trust for Endangered Species and English Nature, London.Google Scholar
  4. Carmichael LE, Nagy JA, Larter, NC, Strobeck C (2001) Prey specialization may influence patterns of gene flow in wolves of the Canadian Northwest. Mol. Ecol., 10, 2787–2798.Google Scholar
  5. Caro TM, Laurenson MK (1994) Ecological and Genetic Factors in Conservation–A Cautionary Tale. Science, 263, 485–486.Google Scholar
  6. Crandall KA, Bininda-Edmonds ORP, Mace GM, Wayne, RK (2000) Considering evolutionary processes in conservation biology. Trends Ecol. Evol., 15, 290–295.Google Scholar
  7. Dallas JF, Piertney SB (1998) Microsatellite primers for the Eurasian otter. Mol. Ecol., 7, 1248–1251.Google Scholar
  8. Davis CS, Strobeck C (1998) Isolation, variability, and cross-species amplification of polymorphic microsatellite loci in the family Mustelidae. Mol. Ecol., 7, 1776–1778.Google Scholar
  9. Davison A, Birks JDS, Brooks RC et al. (2001) Mitochondrial phylogeography and population history of pine martens, Martes martes, compared with polecats, Mustela putorius. Mol. Ecol., 10, 2479–2488.Google Scholar
  10. Davison A, Birks JDS, Brooks RC et al. (2002) On the origin of faeces: Morphological versus molecular methods for surveying rare carnivores from their scats. J. Zool., 257, 141–143.Google Scholar
  11. Grakov NN (1994) Kidus–a hybrid of the sable and the pine marten. Lutreola, 1, 1–4.Google Scholar
  12. Kyle CJ, Strobeck C (2001) Genetic structure of North American wolverine (Gulo gulo) populations. Mol. Ecol., 10, 337–348.Google Scholar
  13. Kyle CJ, Strobeck C (2002) Connectivity of Peripheral and Core Populations of North American Wolverines. J. Mammal, 83, 0000–0000.Google Scholar
  14. Kyle CJ, Strobeck C (submitted) Genetic homogeneity of Canadian mainland marten populations underscores genetic distinctiveness of Newfoundland pine martens(Martes americana atrata). Can. J. Zool.Google Scholar
  15. Kyle CJ, Davis CS, Strobeck C (2000) Population genetic structure of martens (Martes americana) from the Northwest Territories and Yukon. Can. J. Zool., 78, 1150–1157.Google Scholar
  16. Kyle CJ, Robitaille JF, Strobeck C (2001) Genetic variation and structure of fisher (Martes pennanti) populations across North America. Mol. Ecol., 10, 2341–2347.Google Scholar
  17. Lande R, Shannon S (1996) The role of genetic variation in adaption and population persistence in a changing environment. Evolution, 50, 434–437.Google Scholar
  18. Langley PJW, Yalden DW (1977) Decline of rarer carnivores in Great Britan during the 19th century. Mamm. Rev., 7, 95–116.Google Scholar
  19. Mantel N (1967) The detection of disease clustering and a generalized regression approach. Can. Res., 27, 209–220.Google Scholar
  20. Messenger JE, Birks JDS (2000) Monitoring the very rare: Pine marten populations in England and Wales. In: Mustelids in a Modern World. Management and Conservation Aspects of a Small Carnivore: Human Interactions (ed. Griffiths HI), pp. 217–230. Backhuys, Leiden.Google Scholar
  21. Mills LS, Allendorf FW (1996) The one-migrant-per-generation rule in conservation and management. Conserv. Biol., 10, 1509–1518.Google Scholar
  22. Mitchell-Jones AJ, Amori G, Bogdanowicz W, Krystufek B, Reijnders PJH, Spitzenberger F, Stubbe M, Thissenn JBM, Vohralik V, Zima J (1999) The Atlas of European Mammals. T and AD Payser Ltd., London.Google Scholar
  23. Moritz C (1994) Defining evolutionarily significant units for conservation. TREE, 9, 373–375.Google Scholar
  24. Nei M (1972) Genetic distances between populations. Am. Nat., 106, 283–292.Google Scholar
  25. Nei M, Roychoudhury AK (1974) Sampling variances of heterozygosity and genetic distance. Genetics, 76, 379–390.Google Scholar
  26. O'Sullivan PJ (1983) The distribution of the Pine marten (Martes martes) in the Republic of Ireland. Mamm. Rev., 13, 39–44.Google Scholar
  27. Paetkau D, Calvert W, Stirling I, Strobeck C (1995) Microsatellite analysis of population structure in Canadian polar bears. Mol. Ecol., 4, 347–354.Google Scholar
  28. Paetkau D, Waits LP, Clarkson PL, Craighead L, Strobeck C (1997) An empirical evaluation of genetic distance statistics using microsatellite data from bear (Ursidae) populations. Genetics, 147, 1943–1957.Google Scholar
  29. Paetkau D, Waits LP, Clarkson LP et al. (1998) Variation in genetic diversity across the range of North American brown bears. Con. Bio., 12, 418–429.Google Scholar
  30. Raymond M, Rousset F (1995) GENEPOP (version 3.1d): Population genetics software for exact tests and ecumenicism. J. Hered., 86, 248–249.Google Scholar
  31. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry, 3rd edn. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Strachan R, Jefferies DJ, Chanin PRF (1996) Pine Marten Survey of England and Wales 1987–1988. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, UK.Google Scholar
  33. Vila C, Amorim IR, Leonard JA et al. (1999) Mitochondrial DNA phylogeny and population history of the grey wolf Canis lupus. Mol. Ecol., 8, 2089–2103.Google Scholar
  34. Walker CW, Vila C, Landa A, Linden M, Ellegren H (2001) Genetic variation and structure in Scandinavian wolverine (Gulo gulo) populations. Mol. Ecol., 10, 53–63.Google Scholar
  35. Waser PM, Strobeck C (1998) Genetic signatures of interpopulation dispersal. TREE, 13, 43–44.Google Scholar
  36. Webster JA (2001) A Review of the Historical Evidence of the Habitat of the Pine Marten in Cumbria. Mamml. Rev., 31, 17–31.Google Scholar
  37. Weir BS, Cockerham CC (1984) Estimating F-statistics for the analysis of population structure. Evolution, 38, 1358–1370.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • C.J. Kyle
    • 1
  • A. Davison
    • 2
  • C. Strobeck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Division of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyGraduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Aramaki-Aza-Aoba, Aoba-kuSendaiJapan

Personalised recommendations