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Low genetic variability in a natural alpine marmot population (Marmota marmota, Sciuridae) revealed by DNA fingerprinting

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Rassmann, K., Arnold, W., & Tautz, D. (1994). Low genetic variability in a natural alpine marmot population (Marmota marmota, Sciuridae) revealed by DNA fingerprinting. Molecular Ecology, 3(4), 347-353. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.1994.tb00074.x.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-0EF7-7
Abstract
Genetic heterogeneity is usually considered an important factor for the viability of a population, yet there are cases in which populations sustain themselves despite virtual homozygosity. A prior step to studying the effects of such low levels of genetic variability can be the analysis of its causes. We analysed a population of the highly social alpine marmot (Marmota marmota, Sciuridae) by multilocus DNA fingerprinting. The fingerprint patterns revealed a very low degree of polymorphism in our main study population. We show that this lack of hypervariability is caused by a low effective population size, rather than by an unusual low mutation rate of the fingerprint loci studied; However, the current number of breeding pairs was found to be about an order of magnitude larger than the one that would be expected to lead to such a low degree of heterozygosity. We conclude that there must have been bottlenecks in the history of the Berchtesgaden marmot population that have severely affected its genetic heterozygosity.