Mitochondrial DNA diversity of the Irish otter, Lutra lutra, population
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The European otter, Lutra lutra, is protected under national and international legislation due to widespread population declines across its distributional range in recent decades. Mitochondrial DNA surveys to date have revealed low diversity within the European population. In this study we examined the mitochondrial DNA diversity of the Irish population to determine the relationships between Irish and other European populations. Diversity within the Irish population was high (h = 0.75) and nine haplotypes were present, five of which were novel. This high diversity might be attributed to a combination of a number of colonisation events, and the comparatively stable demographic history of the Irish population in comparison with the rest of Europe. The haplotype network showed no clear divergence between Irish and other European populations, and possible colonisation routes of Ireland are discussed.
KeywordsmtDNA Postglacial colonisation Conservation units Otter Ireland
The authors would like to thank J. Rochford for help with this study. We are grateful to all those who provided samples for the cadaver survey, notably M. Bailey, F. Marnell, D. McDonagh, P. Sleeman, P. Smiddy, D. Buckley and P. Stuart. P. Stafford, A. Boyce, M. Linnie, F. Marnell, P. Murphy, S. Miller and G. Little provided technical support and help with genetic analysis. The cadaver collection was carried out as part of PhD research by L Ó Néill funded by IRCSET. Genetic analysis was funded by the Zoology Dept, TCD and the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service.
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