Research objectives and content
This project aims at estimating the genetically effective size of a large number of natural brown trout (Salmo trutta} populations and determine the distribution of effective size within the species. The genetically effective population size is a complex measure that quantifies the tendency for the population to accumulate inbreeding and lose genetic variation over time. Inbreeding and loss of genetic variation are expected in populations of effectively small size, and such losses may compromise future adaptations and possibly lead to increased risks of local extinction. Previous studies have detected loss of genetic variation and detrimental effects of inbreeding in hatchery stocks, but little is currently known about the effective sizes of wild populations living under natural, unperturbed conditions. The proposed study is the first one in which a comprehensive description of this important quantity is attempted in any wide-ranging species, and should indicate whether there is a lower limit to the effective sizes and if there are forces that retard loss of genetic variation in natural populations. The results will be interpreted in light of the need for providing sound management recommendations for natural and exploited salmonid fish populations.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
Training in statistics and conservation biology, including conservation genetics. Development of skills in applying genetic data to conservation and management problems.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)