[MARMAM] New paper on harbour seal genetics, PVA and MUs

Morten Tange Olsen mortentolsen at gmail.com
Tue Apr 22 02:22:03 PDT 2014

Dear MARMAMers

We are pleased to announce the publication of our paper using genetic data
and population viability analyses to identify harbour seal populations and
management units


Identification of populations and management units is an essential step in
the study of natural systems. Still, there is limited consensus regarding
how to define populations and management units, and whether genetic methods
allow for inference at the relevant spatial and temporal scale. Here, we
present a novel approach, integrating genetic, life history and demographic
data to identify populations and management units in southern Scandinavian
harbour seals. First, 15 microsatellite markers and model- and
distance-based genetic clustering methods were used to determine the
population genetic structure in harbour seals. Second, we used harbour seal
demographic and life history data to conduct population viability analyses
(PVAs) in the vortex simulation model in order to determine whether the
inferred genetic units could be classified as management units according to
Lowe and Allendorf's (Molecular Ecology, 19, 2010, 3038) ‘population
viability criterion’ for demographic independence. The genetic analyses
revealed fine-scale population structuring in southern Scandinavian harbour
seals and pointed to the existence of several genetic units. The PVAs
indicated that the census population size of each of these genetic units
was sufficiently large for long-term population viability, and hence that
the units could be classified as demographically independent management
units. Our study suggests that population genetic inference can offer the
same degree of temporal and spatial resolution as ‘nongenetic’ methods and
that the combined use of genetic data and PVAs constitutes a promising
approach for delineating populations and management units.

If you are interested, but cannot access the paper, please send an email to

Best wishes,
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