Conservation Genetics

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 401–409 | Cite as

Population genetics of the native caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) and the semi-domestic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) in Southwestern Greenland: Evidence of introgression

  • B.I. JepsenEmail author
  • H.R. Siegismund
  • M. Fredholm


Over the past centuries the native caribou ofWest Greenland has gone through extensive population size fluctuations, with reductionsas great as 90% in less than 20 years.Norwegian semi-domestic reindeer wereintroduced to the Nuuk area in 1952 because ofthe small number of caribou in Greenland.Although the reindeer and caribou wereinitially kept separated, mixing has occurredsince the 1970's. We investigated the genotypicstructure of caribou and reindeer in South-westGreenland, using five polymorphicmicrosatellite markers isolated from cattle,sheep, goat and red deer. A total of ninetysamples were collected, which included samplesfrom caribou of four different regions andsamples from two different reindeer herds.Based on the genetic variation of the fivemarkers, our results shows that the caribou andthe reindeer populations in the six regionssampled are genetically differentiated withineach group and the two subspecies aredifferentiated from each other. A likelyexplanation for the genetic isolation of thepopulations investigated is that naturalbarriers (glaciers and wide fjords) exists inthe area. Furthermore we found that introducedNorwegian domestic reindeer hybridized with thenative Greenlandic caribou in two areasneighbouring Nuuk.

domestic Norwegian reindeer introduction microsatellite native Greenlandic caribou population structure Rangifer tarandus 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Genetics and Breeding, Department of Animal Science and HealthThe Royal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityFrederiksberg CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution and DiversityBotanical InstituteCopenhagen KDenmark

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