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Comparison of Czech and Latvian Beaver Population by Microsatellite Analysis and Genetic Differences between Castor Fiber and Castor Canadensis

Martin Ernst, Lenka Putnová, Radek Štohl, Jarmila Matoušková


The aim of the research was to compare the genetic diversity of Castor Fiber populations in the Czech Republic and Latvia, countries of approximately the same geographical area, via microsatellite analyses. The beaver populations in both countries were affected by a severe reduction in numbers in the past (bottleneck). Beaver can still be legally hunted in present-day Latvia. This course of action should be allowed in certain problematic areas of the Czech Republic. Another objective was to verify the utilization of a new multiplex panel for the European beaver, which was assembled from microsatellites which were tested by Crawford et al. (2008) on Castor Canadensis in order to verify subpopulations of Castor Fiber and differentiate between various beaver breeds. Genetic analyses and comparison were carried out with the following software: PowerMarker 3.25, MEGA 5.05, Structure 2.3.4 and GENEPOP 4.2.1. The lowest heterozygosity, PIC and genetic variability have been found at C. fiber from the Czech Republic followed by C. fiber from the Latvia and C. canadensis. When testing by Structure analyses, the total of four groups have been identified for K=4, C. canadensis can be considered as distinctive group without any links to both studied groups of C. fiber, which has been confirmed also by the dendrogram results. As for the Czech studied population, one animal has been differentiated. Contrary to all other studied Czech C. fiber that come from Central and Southern Moravia, this animal comes from Western Bohemia. The results point to potential existence of subpopulations in the Czech Republic. The microsatellite panel can be viewed as a suitable method for differentiating between beaver breeds and the results indicate the negative impact of controlled hunting on the genetic diversity of the beaver population in Latvia. The data can be further used for protection and management of the European beaver population in the Czech Republic.

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