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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Population genomics reveals lack of greater white-fronted introgression into the Swedish lesser white-fronted goose

Díez-del-Molino, David; von Seth, Johanna; Gyllenstrand, Niclas; Widemo, Fredrik; Liljebäck, Niklas; Svensson, Mikael; Sjögren-Gulve, Per; Dalén, Love


Interspecifc introgression is considered a potential threat to endangered taxa. One example where this has had a major impact on conservation policy is the lesser white-fronted goose (LWfG). After a dramatic decline in Sweden, captive breeding birds were released between 1981–1999 with the aim to reinforce the population. However, the detection of greater white-fronted goose (GWfG) mitochondrial DNA in the LWfG breeding stock led to the release program being dismantled, even though the presence of GWfG introgression in the actual wild Swedish LWfG population was never documented. To examine this, we sequenced the complete genomes of 21 LWfG birds from the Swedish, Russian and Norwegian populations, and compared these with genomes from other goose species, including the GWfG. We found no evidence of interspecifc introgression into the wild Swedish LWfG population in either nuclear genomic or mitochondrial data. Moreover, Swedish LWfG birds are genetically distinct from the Russian and Norwegian populations and display comparatively low genomic diversity and high levels of inbreeding. Our fndings highlight the utility of genomic approaches in providing scientifc evidence that can help improve conservation management as well as policies for breeding and reinforcement programmes.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2020, Volume: 10, number: 1, article number: 18347