Evolution in small populations - a conservation genomic approach

Project leader


Funding source

Formas - The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2016
End date: 31/12/2018
Funding: 3300000 SEK


Lowered viability caused by mating between close relatives (inbreeding depression) was acknowledged in religious writings and described in detail by early evolutionary biologists. Today, human activities modify ecosystems and cause declines of many populations. Understanding how evolutionary processes operate in small populations is crucial for conservation and management. Genetic factors can reduce viability and accelerate population decline in small populations, but despite solid theories of inbreeding depression, few have managed to document inbreeding depression in natural populations. This can be explained by lack of long-term pedigree data, confounding effects of microevolution and limitations of previously used techniques. Furthermore, environmental variation also exert an impact on the evolutionary pathways. We propose a novel project combining genomic analyses of a long-term pedigree and fitness data in a wild, fluctuating mammal population living under fluctuating conditions. Our aim is to disseminate the processes determining evolution in small populations with specific emphasis on the cause and consequence of inbreeding depression. This project will contribute to the general understanding of evolution in small populations, but also add insights of value for the current management of small carnivore populations as well as functioning as a non-controversial model system used to inform the public.

Last updated on 2017-07-08 at 08:49