Mammalian Biology

, Volume 79, Issue 4, pp 240–246 | Cite as

Preservation of genetic diversity in a wild and captive population of a rapidly declining mammal, the Common hamster of the French Alsace region

  • Tobias Erik ReinersEmail author
  • Julien Eidenschenk
  • Karsten Neumann
  • Carsten Nowak
Original Investigation


The Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) faced massive population declines throughout its western range margin. In France, relict populations remained in the Alsace region. By comparing allelic diversity using microsatellite analysis over a time span of 12 years we investigated if this population decline led to genetic erosion in a French relict population of the species. Genetic diversity was moderate but comparable to other populations from Western Europe. Interestingly, no decline of allelic variation was revealed between 1999 and 2012 in the study region (expected heterozygosity = 0.51 in 1999 and 0.5 in 2012, respectively), suggesting a sufficiently high effective population size of ~500(179-956 SD). While several alleles were lost in a captive breed maintained for restocking purposes in the region, expected heterozygosity was comparably high (=0.5). Our results show that genetic diversity has been effectively maintained in a relict population of French Common hamsters despite of massive range loss. We recommend the maintenance of intense in situ conservation effort, along with regular monitoring of genetic diversity and effective population size.


Cricetidae Relict population Genetic impoverishment Population decline Captive breeding 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tobias Erik Reiners
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julien Eidenschenk
    • 2
  • Karsten Neumann
    • 3
  • Carsten Nowak
    • 1
  1. 1.Conservation Genetics GroupSenckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum FrankfurtGelnhausenGermany
  2. 2.Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune SauvageMoulins les MetzFrance
  3. 3.Institute of Pathology/Molecular Diagnostics SectionMedical Centre Dessau-RosslauDessau-RosslumGermany

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