[MARMAM] New publication on Australian sea lion genomics

Kerstin Bilgmann bilgmann.k at gmail.com
Fri Apr 16 01:50:12 PDT 2021

Dear colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of our new
article on Australian sea lion genomics in *Animal Conservation*:

Bilgmann, K., Armansin, N., Ferchaud, A-L., Normandeau, E., Bernatchez, L.,
Harcourt, R., Ahonen, H., Lowther, A., Goldsworthy, S. D., & Stow, A.
 (2021). Low effective population size in the genetically bottlenecked
Australian sea lion is insufficient to maintain genetic variation. *Animal
Conservation* http://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12688

In case don't have access to the journal, please feel free to email
kerstin.bilgmann at mq.edu.au to request a copy of the pdf.


Genetic bottlenecks can reduce effective population sizes (*Ne*), increase
the rate at which genetic variation is lost via drift, increase the
frequency of deleterious mutations and thereby accentuate inbreeding risk
and lower evolutionary potential. Here, we tested for the presence of a
genetic bottleneck in the endangered Australian sea lion (*Neophoca cinerea*),
estimated *Ne* and predicted future losses of genetic variation under a
range of scenarios. We used 2238 genome‐wide neutral single‐nucleotide
polymorphisms (SNPs) from 72 individuals sampled from colonies off the
southern (SA) and western (WA) coastline of Australia. Coalescent analyses
using approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) methods indicated that both
the SA and WA populations have experienced a historical genetic bottleneck.
Using LD‐based methods, we estimated contemporary *Ne* to be 160
(CI = 146–178) and 424 (CI = 397–458) for the WA and SA populations
respectively. Modelled future population declines suggested that disease
epidemics prompted the highest increases in inbreeding relative to
fishery‐related mortalities and other modelled threats. Small effective
sizes and relatively low genetic variation leave this species vulnerable,
and these risks may be compounded if current population declines are not

Best wishes,


Kerstin Bilgmann, PhD, SFHEA

Honorary Research Fellow

Department of Biological Sciences

Macquarie University

Sydney, NSW 2109


Ph: +61(0)2 9850 8151


Honorary Associate

Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL),

and Molecular Ecology Lab (MELFU)

Biological Sciences

Flinders University,

GPO Box 2100 Adelaide, SA 5001

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