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Denny Island, Canada

Stronen A.V.,University of New Brunswick | Stronen A.V.,Polish Academy of Sciences | Forbes G.J.,University of New Brunswick | Paquet P.C.,Raincoast Conservation Foundation | And 3 more authors.
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2012

The effects of human-caused fragmentation require further study in landscapes where physical dispersal barriers and natural ecological transitions can be discounted as causes for population genetic structure. We predict that fragmentation can reduce dispersal across such barrier-free landscapes because dispersal also is limited by a perception of risk. Considerable fragmentation has occurred in the Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) region in Manitoba, Canada, during the past 60 years. We examine data from 13 autosomal microsatellites to determine whether fragmentation is correlated with genetic population structure in wolves (Canis lupus). Moderate and significant differentiation between RMNP and a genetic cluster identified 30 km farther north (F ST = 0.053, 95% CI [0.031-0.073]) is consistent with predicted effects of fragmentation. The RMNP population cluster represents at least seven wolf packs followed weekly by radio tracking during 2003-2006. Distinct mtDNA haplotypes have been identified in the Park and no successful wolf dispersal from RMNP has been documented in several multi-year tracking studies since 1974. Tracking data also indicate that some wolves might be reluctant to leave RMNP. Although the influence of behaviour and local adaptation require investigation, human-caused fragmentation appears to have caused cryptic genetic structure on fine spatiotemporal scales in a vagile species that is: (1) not influenced by physical movement barriers or historical ecological discontinuities in our study area, and; (2) able to live relatively close to humans. The Great Plains is now an intensely human-managed landscape. Detection of cryptic genetic structure could therefore function as an important indicator in conservation management. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

Stronen A.V.,Polish Academy of Sciences | Paquet P.C.,Raincoast Conservation Foundation | Paquet P.C.,University of Victoria
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

Hybridization processes are widespread throughout the taxonomic range and require conservation recognition. Science can help us understand hybridization processes but not whether and when we ought to conserve hybrids. Important questions include the role of humans in hybridization and the value we place on natural and human-induced hybrids concerning their ecological function. Certain hybrids resulting from human actions have replaced the ecological role of extirpated or extinct parent taxa and this ecological role should be preserved. Conservation policies must increasingly recognize populations of wild organisms that hybridize naturally within the context of their historical ecological role. Natural selection acts on individual organisms and the range of characteristics displayed by individual hybrids constitute raw material for evolution. Guidelines must consider the conservation value of individuals and the ethical aspects of removing hybrids for the purpose of conserving population genetic integrity. Conservation policies should focus on protecting the ecological role of taxa affected by hybridization. An informative example is North American canids (Canis), where body size, prey availability, and human landscape modifications may interact and impose local selective pressures. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) and eastern wolves (Canis lycaon or Canis lupus lycaon) or Great Lakes wolves appear to hybridize naturally within the context of their historical ecological role. In contrast, eastern coyotes (C. latrans) exhibit wolf ancestry and have partly replaced the ecological role of an extirpated parent taxa in parts of northeastern North America. The need for advancing conservation policies that reflect our current understanding of ecology and evolution is urgent. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Paquet P.C.,Box 150 | Paquet P.C.,University of Calgary | Darimont C.T.,Raincoast Conservation Foundation | Darimont C.T.,University of California at Santa Cruz
Animal Welfare | Year: 2010

Human activities deprive wild animals of their life requisites by destroying or impoverishing their surroundings, causing suffering of individuals. Yet, the notion that animal welfare applies to wildlife has escaped many animal welfarists and conservationists. A well-accepted and applied ethical foundation for animal conservation that considers animal welfare is lacking. We address this by examining how worldviews of conservationists and animal welfarists are related. The clear conceptual link is that individuals within anthropogenically disturbed populations often endure suffering caused by humans. Accordingly, our objectives are to provide an overview of wildlife conservation, integrate ethical aspects of wildlife conservation and animal welfare, and encourage a 'wildlife welfare' ethic among conservationists. We describe the relationship between contemporary socioeconomic and environmental conditions and the impoverished status of North American wildlife. We then describe the ecological plight of large mammalian carnivores in North America. Finally, as a case study, we focus on the tenuous lives of grey wolves (Canis lupus) living in the midst of human-dominated landscapes. We conclude that the suffering wildlife endures because of humans is a collective responsibility that presents a moral imperative for animal welfarists and conservationists alike. Habitat destruction and impoverishment deprives species of life requisites, causing trauma, prolonged suffering, and eventually death. We suggest that a shared doctrine of animal welfare principles is needed, such as a modified version of the internationally recognised Five Freedoms. In essence, this would be an ethical affirmation for conservationists and animal welfarists. © 2010 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare The Old School. Source

Vander Wal E.,University of Saskatchewan | Vander Wal E.,Universite de Sherbrooke | Paquet P.C.,Raincoast Conservation Foundation | Messier F.,University of Saskatchewan | McLoughlin P.D.,University of Saskatchewan
Canadian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2013

Structure in sociality is known to relate to intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Less understood are the mechanics of sociality expressed as fine-scale behaviours that maintain hierarchies, mediate competition, or transmit pathogens. A recent novel approach to quantifying fine-scale social behaviour has been to use proximity-logging biotelemetry collars. This technology continuously records data whenever collars are within a predefined distance of each other, at times of day, and in habitats where traditional ethological approaches to focal-individual sampling of behaviours are unfeasible. We tested a series of expectations on fine-scale (≤1.4 m) interaction rates and durations consistent with competing hypotheses of seasonal and sexual segregation for elk (Cervus canadensis Erxleben, 1777). Female-female dyads interacted 4 times more frequently than male-male dyads (mean interaction rate per year: female-female = 62 vs. male-male = 14; P < 0.001), and male-male interactions were 1.5 times longer in duration than female-female interactions (mean interaction length: female-female = 30 s vs. male-male = 45 s; P < 0.001). We propose that fine-scale interactions among members of a population can be modeled as a trade-off between the frequency (quantity) and the duration (quality) of interactions. Our results have implications for understanding sex-based differences in sociality in gregarious herbivores and for disease transmission, which may follow from social intercourse. Source

Vander Wal E.,University of Saskatchewan | Paquet P.C.,Raincoast Conservation Foundation | Andraes J.A.,University of Saskatchewan
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2012

The mechanisms of pathogen transmission are often social behaviours. These occur at local scales and are affected by landscape-scale population structure. Host populations frequently exist in patchy and isolated environments that create a continuum of genetic and social familiarity. Such variability has an important multispatial effect on pathogen spread. We assessed elk dispersal (i.e. likelihood of interdeme pathogen transmission) through spatially explicit genetic analyses. At a landscape scale, the elk population was composed of one cluster within a southeast-to-northwest cline spanning three spatially discrete subpopulations of elk across two protected areas in Manitoba (Canada). Genetic data are consistent with spatial variability in apparent prevalence of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in elk. Given the existing population structure, between-subpopulation spread of disease because of elk dispersal is unlikely. Furthermore, to better understand the risk of spread and distribution of the TB, we used a combination of close-contact logging biotelemetry and genetic data, which highlights how social intercourse may affect pathogen transmission. Our results indicate that close-contact interaction rate and duration did not covary with genetic relatedness. Thus, direct elk-to-elk transmission of disease is unlikely to be constrained to related individuals. That social intercourse in elk is not limited to familial groups provides some evidence pathogen transmission may be density-dependent. We show that the combination of landscape-scale genetics, relatedness and local-scale social behaviours is a promising approach to understand and predict landscape-level pathogen transmission within our system and within all social ungulate systems affected by transmissible diseases. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

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