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Abstract

Habitat discontinuity, anthropogenic disturbance, and overharvesting have led to population fragmentation and decline worldwide. Preservation of remaining natural genetic diversity is crucial to avoid continued genetic erosion. Brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) is an ideal model species for studying anthropogenic influences on genetic integrity, as it has experienced significant genetic alterations throughout its natural distribution range due to habitat fragmentation, overexploitation, translocations, and stocking. The Pasvik River is a subarctic riverine system shared between Norway, Russia, and Finland, subdivided by seven hydroelectric power dams that destroyed about 70% of natural spawning and nursing areas. Stocking is applied in certain river parts to support the natural brown trout population. Adjacent river segments with different management strategies (stocked vs. not stocked) facilitated the simultaneous assessment of genetic impacts of dams and stocking based on analyses of 16 short tandem repeat loci. Dams were expected to increase genetic differentiation between and reduce genetic diversity within river sections. Contrastingly, stocking was predicted to promote genetic homogenization and diversity, but also potentially lead to loss of private alleles and to genetic erosion. Our results showed comparatively low heterozygosity and clear genetic differentiation between adjacent sections in nonstocked river parts, indicating that dams prevent migration and contribute to genetic isolation and loss of genetic diversity. Furthermore, genetic differentiation was low and heterozygosity relatively high across stocked sections. However, in stocked river sections, we found signatures of recent bottlenecks and reductions in private alleles, indicating that only a subset of individuals contributes to reproduction, potentially leading to divergence away from the natural genetic state. Taken together, these results indicate that stocking counteracts the negative fragmentation effects of dams, but also that stocking practices should be planned carefully in order to ensure long‐term preservation of natural genetic diversity and integrity in brown trout and other species in regulated river systems.

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Abstract

We reconstructed family relationships, parent-child and siblings, among the brown bear (Ursus arctos) sampled in Sør-Varanger, Norway. Basis of this study are observed family relationships by the wildlife management. We compared this strong indication of relatedness with testing particular family relationships using SNP- and STR-genotype data of 154 brown bears sampled mainly non-invasively in the area from 2004 to 2016. We calculated likelihood ratios (LRs) and reconstructed family groups with the program FAMILIAS, which was used to reconstruct family relationships in human forensics. When the LR of each relationship, parent-child or siblings, was tested, 40 (38.1%) relationships were confirmed based solely on genetic data. The allele sharing analysis visualized as dendrograms supported that a large proportion of the remaining observed cases that were not confirmed as parent-child or siblings did share a closer family relationship. More detailed analysis is necessary to deduce the nature of these relationships (cousins, uncle-nephew etc.). Based on the genetic data we found, that the minimum number of cubs per year was on average 4.08. The applied SNP-chip has been developed on the Swedish brown bear population, a population different to the bears living in Sør-Varanger. The performance of the SNP-chip in this study rises questions of its applicability for family analysis in other brown bear populations and shows the need for further evaluation of the individual loci on the chip. Nevertheless, the combined SNP-data from all loci seems to provide power enough to detect the previously reported subpopulation structure. The observational data, sampling effort and quality of the sample material of the brown bears in Sør-Varanger is remarkable and the material provides an excellent testing ground to validate and improve the SNP-chip to reconstruct family groups.