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The effect of reintroductions on the genetic variability in Eurasian lynx populations: the cases of Bohemian–Bavarian and Vosges–Palatinian populations

Bull, James K., Heurich, Marco, Saveljev, Alexander P., Schmidt, Krzysztof, Fickel, Jörns, Förster, Daniel W.
Conservation genetics 2016 v.17 no.5 pp. 1229-1234
Lynx lynx, forests, genetic variation, habitats, microsatellite repeats, Western European region
Over the past ~40 years, several attempts were made to reintroduce Eurasian lynx to suitable habitat within their former distribution range in Western Europe. In general, limited numbers of individuals have been released to establish new populations. To evaluate the effects of reintroductions on the genetic status of lynx populations we used 12 microsatellite loci to study lynx populations in the Bohemian–Bavarian and Vosges–Palatinian forests. Compared with autochthonous lynx populations, these two reintroduced populations displayed reduced genetic diversity, particularly the Vosges–Palatinian population. Our genetic data provide further evidence to support the status of ‘endangered’ and ‘critically endangered’ for the Bohemian–Bavarian and Vosges–Palatinian populations, respectively. Regarding conservation management, we highlight the need to limit poaching, and advocate additional translocations to bolster genetic variability.