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The genetic legacy of multiple beaver reintroductions in Central Europe.

Frosch C, Kraus RH, Angst C, Allgöwer R, Michaux J, Teubner J, Nowak C - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: The comeback of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) throughout western and central Europe is considered a major conservation success.This inhomogeneity in management actions generated ongoing debates regarding the origin of present beaver populations and appropriate management plans for the future.While regional occurrences of invasive North American beavers (n = 20) were found, all but one C. fiber bore the mitochondrial haplotype of the autochthonous western Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Conservation Genetics Group, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, Gelnhausen, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The comeback of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) throughout western and central Europe is considered a major conservation success. Traditionally, several subspecies are recognised by morphology and mitochondrial haplotype, each linked to a relict population. During various reintroduction programs in the 20th century, beavers from multiple source localities were released and now form viable populations. These programs differed in their reintroduction strategies, i.e., using pure subspecies vs. mixed source populations. This inhomogeneity in management actions generated ongoing debates regarding the origin of present beaver populations and appropriate management plans for the future. By sequencing of the mitochondrial control region and microsatellite genotyping of 235 beaver individuals from five selected regions in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Belgium we show that beavers from at least four source origins currently form admixed, genetically diverse populations that spread across the study region. While regional occurrences of invasive North American beavers (n = 20) were found, all but one C. fiber bore the mitochondrial haplotype of the autochthonous western Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU). Considering this, as well as the viability of admixed populations and the fact that the fusion of different lineages is already progressing in all studied regions, we argue that admixture between different beaver source populations should be generally accepted.

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Reintroduction map of beavers in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.Boxes represent five different investigated areas. Symbols represent reintroduction locations and show from which population beavers were relocated. Detailed information of the reintroduction history in the five regions is provided in the Text S1.
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pone-0097619-g001: Reintroduction map of beavers in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.Boxes represent five different investigated areas. Symbols represent reintroduction locations and show from which population beavers were relocated. Detailed information of the reintroduction history in the five regions is provided in the Text S1.

Mentions: Beavers were anthropogenically reduced to only few scattered relict populations in Eurasia [7] by the beginning of the 20th century. Various subspecies were initially defined based on the geographic location of their refugia and subtle morphological differences [8]. Later it was found that this massive bottleneck reduced genetic diversity in the relict populations severely [9]. Therefore, only a single or few mitochondrial control region (CR) haplotypes, which were all specific for each relict population, were preserved [10], [11]. These matched designated subspecies and could be assigned to two major mtDNA clades [10], which were consequently proposed to form an eastern and a western Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU) sensu Moritz et al. [12] (note, however, that ESU delineation may have been flawed in Durka et al. [10] because no nuclear genetic information was presented). In our study region, including Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, >50 reintroductions released an unknown number of beavers of various origins, including relict populations of the presumed western ESU [10]: C. f. albicus Matschie 1907 (relict population in Germany), C. f. galliae Geoffroy 1803 (relict population in France), C. f. fiber L. 1758 (relict population in Norway); as well as beavers from the Voronezh breeding station in Russia (C. f. orientoeuropaeus Lavrov 1981), so far presumed to belong to the eastern ESU [13] (Fig. 1). Four additional subspecies of the eastern ESU C. f. birulai Serebrennikov 1929 (relict population in China and Mongolia), C. f. tuvinicus Lavrov 1969 (relict population in West-Siberia), C. f. pohlei Serebrennikov 1929 (relict population in Middle Siberia), and C. f. belorussicus Lavrov 1981 (relict population in Belarus) are described [7], [10], but are not recorded to be reintroduced within our study area.


The genetic legacy of multiple beaver reintroductions in Central Europe.

Frosch C, Kraus RH, Angst C, Allgöwer R, Michaux J, Teubner J, Nowak C - PLoS ONE (2014)

Reintroduction map of beavers in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.Boxes represent five different investigated areas. Symbols represent reintroduction locations and show from which population beavers were relocated. Detailed information of the reintroduction history in the five regions is provided in the Text S1.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4020922&req=5

pone-0097619-g001: Reintroduction map of beavers in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.Boxes represent five different investigated areas. Symbols represent reintroduction locations and show from which population beavers were relocated. Detailed information of the reintroduction history in the five regions is provided in the Text S1.
Mentions: Beavers were anthropogenically reduced to only few scattered relict populations in Eurasia [7] by the beginning of the 20th century. Various subspecies were initially defined based on the geographic location of their refugia and subtle morphological differences [8]. Later it was found that this massive bottleneck reduced genetic diversity in the relict populations severely [9]. Therefore, only a single or few mitochondrial control region (CR) haplotypes, which were all specific for each relict population, were preserved [10], [11]. These matched designated subspecies and could be assigned to two major mtDNA clades [10], which were consequently proposed to form an eastern and a western Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU) sensu Moritz et al. [12] (note, however, that ESU delineation may have been flawed in Durka et al. [10] because no nuclear genetic information was presented). In our study region, including Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, >50 reintroductions released an unknown number of beavers of various origins, including relict populations of the presumed western ESU [10]: C. f. albicus Matschie 1907 (relict population in Germany), C. f. galliae Geoffroy 1803 (relict population in France), C. f. fiber L. 1758 (relict population in Norway); as well as beavers from the Voronezh breeding station in Russia (C. f. orientoeuropaeus Lavrov 1981), so far presumed to belong to the eastern ESU [13] (Fig. 1). Four additional subspecies of the eastern ESU C. f. birulai Serebrennikov 1929 (relict population in China and Mongolia), C. f. tuvinicus Lavrov 1969 (relict population in West-Siberia), C. f. pohlei Serebrennikov 1929 (relict population in Middle Siberia), and C. f. belorussicus Lavrov 1981 (relict population in Belarus) are described [7], [10], but are not recorded to be reintroduced within our study area.

Bottom Line: The comeback of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) throughout western and central Europe is considered a major conservation success.This inhomogeneity in management actions generated ongoing debates regarding the origin of present beaver populations and appropriate management plans for the future.While regional occurrences of invasive North American beavers (n = 20) were found, all but one C. fiber bore the mitochondrial haplotype of the autochthonous western Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Conservation Genetics Group, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, Gelnhausen, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The comeback of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) throughout western and central Europe is considered a major conservation success. Traditionally, several subspecies are recognised by morphology and mitochondrial haplotype, each linked to a relict population. During various reintroduction programs in the 20th century, beavers from multiple source localities were released and now form viable populations. These programs differed in their reintroduction strategies, i.e., using pure subspecies vs. mixed source populations. This inhomogeneity in management actions generated ongoing debates regarding the origin of present beaver populations and appropriate management plans for the future. By sequencing of the mitochondrial control region and microsatellite genotyping of 235 beaver individuals from five selected regions in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Belgium we show that beavers from at least four source origins currently form admixed, genetically diverse populations that spread across the study region. While regional occurrences of invasive North American beavers (n = 20) were found, all but one C. fiber bore the mitochondrial haplotype of the autochthonous western Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU). Considering this, as well as the viability of admixed populations and the fact that the fusion of different lineages is already progressing in all studied regions, we argue that admixture between different beaver source populations should be generally accepted.

Show MeSH