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Study finds wolves genetically diverse, dispersing

[large thumbnail url=”study-finds-wolves-genetically-diverse-dispersing” filename=”science” year=”2010″ month=”10″ day=”14″] [thumbnail icon url=”study-finds-wolves-genetically-diverse-dispersing” filename=”science” year=”2010″ month=”10″ day=”14″] Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains are genetically healthy and have migrated and bred successfully among subpopulations in central Idaho, greater Yellowstone and northern Montana, according to a new study.

Authors of the study analyzed DNA samples from 555 wolves, beginning with the reintroduction of a few dozen wolves in 1995 and running through 2004, when the population had grown to about 850 animals. The study was published in the October issue of Molecular Ecology.

“We found that genetic diversity was high and maintained throughout the study period for the three recovery areas,” the authors said. “Overall, genetic diversity throughout the [northern Rockies] was comparable or greater than estimates for other gray wolf populations.”

In addition to high levels of genetic diversity, data show “a lack of significant inbreeding in each population,” researchers said. “In addition to a rapid population expansion and a genetically diverse founding population, low inbreeding estimates were probably driven and maintained through behaviorally mediated inbreeding avoidance.”

The study also seems to allay concerns that breeding wolves haven’t been able to migrate among the central Idaho, northern Montana and greater Yellowstone populations…

You can read the entire, if slightly slanted, article on Study finds wolves genetically diverse, dispersing

note: it should be noted that one of the researchers suggest that significant drops in the current population of wolves could certainly reverse this trend. It will be a contentious point with those spouting rhetoric, but the truth is that the findings give credence to the balance between multiple arguments. Clearly reaching this population number for wolves is proving to be an excellent level for them to be at in order to be a successful, viable population. Ed Bangs and his crew can certainly point this study and suggest that both sides should back off and let him and his group do their jobs – which apparantly seems to be working.

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