Navigation Links
Researchers shed new light on the genetic history of the European beaver
Date:2/18/2014

An international team of scientists has used detailed analysis of ancient and modern DNA to show that the distribution and lack of genetic diversity among modern European beavers is due largely to human hunting.

The research, which was led by University of York researcher Professor Michi Hofreiter, provides important new insights into the genetic history of the Eurasian beaver Castor fiber. Crucially, it shows the European beaver has been strongly affected by expanding human populations for many thousands of years.

The researchers say that centuries of hunting, rather than changing climate conditions since the beginning of the Holocene (or recent) period, accounts for the lack of genetic diversity, as well as the geographic distribution of genetic diversity, seen in modern European beavers.

The research, which also involved researchers from Germany, USA, Norway, New Zealand, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands, is reported in the journal Molecular Ecology.

Through DNA sequencing, the research team discovered that the Eurasian beaver can be divided into three distinct groups. The two main ones are in western and eastern Europe, with a now extinct, and previously unknown, third group in the Danube basin. This population existed at least 6,000 years ago but went extinct during the transition to modern times.

Professor Hofreiter, from York's Department of Biology and the University of Potsdam's Faculty of Mathematics and Life Sciences, said: "While beaver populations have been growing rapidly since the late 19th century when conservation efforts began, genetic diversity within modern beaver populations remains considerably reduced to what was present prior to the period of human hunting and habitat reduction.

"In addition, the rapid loss of diversity prior to conservation efforts appears to have established a very strong pattern for the geographic distribution of genetic diversity among present-day beaver populations." Beavers have long been an important resource for human populations across the northern continents. Their fur is of exceptional quality, and has been a highly traded commodity. Beavers have also been hunted for meat and for castoreum - an anal gland secretion often used in traditional medicine. Stone engravings at Lake Onega in northern Europe indicate that beavers played a role in ancient human societies from around 3,000-4,000 years ago.

After centuries of human hunting, the Eurasian beaver had disappeared from most of its original range by the end of the 19th century, with only an estimated 1,200 beavers remaining.

The research team set out to discover whether the lack of genetic diversity and strong phylogeography (geographic distribution of genetic diversity) seen today are the result of its near extinction, or already existed prior to the reduction in its range. To do this, they examined DNA from 48 ancient beaver samples, ranging in age from several hundred to around 11,000 years old, and 152 modern DNA sequences.

The experimental work was carried out in Leipzig, Germany. Corresponding author Dr Susanne Horn, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, said: "We found that overall there was more genetic diversity in the past. Apparently, already in ancient times an ancient contact zone existed between the eastern and western populations of beavers in the Oder River area. This is close to a present-day contact zone in Germany and Poland."

Professor Hofreiter added: "The present-day contact zone was assisted by conservation management and members of the eastern and western population groups meet there today as they did in the past. This suggests that conservation management may, in the long run, help to restore the pre-human impact population structure of threatened species."


'/>"/>

Contact: Caron Lett
caron.lett@york.ac.uk
44-019-043-22029
University of York
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
2. UC Santa Barbara researchers discover genetic link between visual pathways of hydras and humans
3. Researchers attempt to solve problems of antibiotic resistance and bee deaths in one
4. UNH researchers find African farmers need better climate change data to improve farming practices
5. Ottawa researchers to lead world-first clinical trial of stem cell therapy for septic shock
6. Researchers uncover molecular pathway through which common yeast becomes fungal pathogen
7. Researchers print live cells with a standard inkjet printer
8. Columbia Engineering and Penn researchers increase speed of single-molecule measurements
9. Researchers reveal how a single gene mutation leads to uncontrolled obesity
10. Researchers discover novel therapy for Crohns disease
11. New paper by Notre Dame researchers describes method for cleaning up nuclear waste
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/9/2017)... and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. ... "Eating Well Made Simple," and 23andMe , the ... guide better food choices.  Zipongo can now provide customers ... food preferences, health goals and biometrics, but also genetic ... food choices. Zipongo,s personalized food decision support ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... Summary This report provides all the ... interests and activities since 2010. ... Read the full report: http://www.reportlinker.com/p03605615-summary/view-report.html ... report provides an in-depth insight into the partnering activity of ... On demand company reports are prepared upon purchase to ensure ...
(Date:3/1/2017)... 1, 2017  Aware, Inc. (NASDAQ: AWRE), a leading ... Richard P. Moberg has resigned, effective March 3, ... Financial Officer and Treasurer of Aware citing a desire ... a member of the Board of Directors of Aware. ... Executive Officer and co-President, General Counsel has been named ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/29/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Agricultural Chelates ... over the next decade to reach approximately $825.4 million by 2025. ... forecasts for all the given segments on global as well as ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... -- The Global Microfluidic Chips Market by Manufacturers, Countries, ... comprehensive study on the existing state of the global Microfluidic Chips ... Europe and Asia-Pacific , ... Africa . ... Browse 172 Tables and Figures, 13 Major Company Profiles, ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... March 28, 2017 , ... ... on March 22 in Philadelphia. The event was offered by the Chamber of ... Roundtable featured breakout groups and interaction with speakers who are leaders in ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... , Belgium , March 28, 2017 ... VolitionRx Limited (NYSE MKT: VNRX), today announced the engagement of ... DVD Associates, LLC, as a strategic consultant. Dr. Vollmer ... identifying and securing non-dilutive funding in the State ... United States . Dr. Vollmer Dahlke has ...
Breaking Biology Technology: