On the River Ticino in northern Italy, a small number of captive Eurasian otters Lutra lutra, belonging to the European breeding programme for self-sustaining captive populations, were reintroduced in 1997, after the species had been declared locally extinct in the 1980s. We surveyed for otter signs in 2008, 2010, 2016-2017 and 2018, confirming the presence of what is probably a small population. To assess the abundance and viability of the population, we genotyped fresh spraints collected during the last two surveys, using 11 microsatellite markers, and modelled the population trend using Vortex. A minimum of six individuals were identified from 25 faecal samples. The analysis of mitochondrial DNA determined that the reintroduced otters share a transversion that is characteristic of the Asiatic subspecies Lutra lutra barang, confirming the contribution of the Asiatic subspecies to the genetic pool of the captive-bred founder population. Population size was consistent with the release of three pairs of otters and all models implied that the number of founders was too small to ensure the long-term survival of the population. Stochastic factors are therefore likely to threaten the success of this reintroduction.

Genetic and viability assessment of a reintroduced Eurasian otter Lutra lutra population on the River Ticino, Italy / A. Balestrieri, L. Gianfranceschi, F. Verduci, E. Gatti, P. Boggioni, N. Mucci, C. Mengoni, E. Capelli, P. Tremolada. - In: ORYX. - ISSN 0030-6053. - (2021), pp. 1-10. [Epub ahead of print] [10.1017/S0030605321000107]

Genetic and viability assessment of a reintroduced Eurasian otter Lutra lutra population on the River Ticino, Italy

A. Balestrieri
Primo
;
L. Gianfranceschi
Secondo
;
P. Tremolada
Ultimo
2021

Abstract

On the River Ticino in northern Italy, a small number of captive Eurasian otters Lutra lutra, belonging to the European breeding programme for self-sustaining captive populations, were reintroduced in 1997, after the species had been declared locally extinct in the 1980s. We surveyed for otter signs in 2008, 2010, 2016-2017 and 2018, confirming the presence of what is probably a small population. To assess the abundance and viability of the population, we genotyped fresh spraints collected during the last two surveys, using 11 microsatellite markers, and modelled the population trend using Vortex. A minimum of six individuals were identified from 25 faecal samples. The analysis of mitochondrial DNA determined that the reintroduced otters share a transversion that is characteristic of the Asiatic subspecies Lutra lutra barang, confirming the contribution of the Asiatic subspecies to the genetic pool of the captive-bred founder population. Population size was consistent with the release of three pairs of otters and all models implied that the number of founders was too small to ensure the long-term survival of the population. Stochastic factors are therefore likely to threaten the success of this reintroduction.
Eurasian otter; genotyping; inbreeding; Italy; Lutra lutra; population viability; reintroduction; River Ticino;
Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia
Settore BIO/05 - Zoologia
13-ott-2021
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/890425
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