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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Performance of SNP markers for parentage analysis in the Italian Alpine brown bear using non-invasive samples

Giangregorio, Patrizia; Mucci, Nadia; Norman, Anita J.; Pedrotti, Luca; Filacorda, Stefano; Molinari, Paolo; Spong, Goran; Davoli, Francesca


Determination of parentage provides valuable information for the conservation of wild populations, for instance, by allowing the monitoring of breeding success and inbreeding. Between 1999 and 2002, nine brown bears (Ursus arctos) were translocated to augment the remnant population of a few surviving individuals in the Italian Alps, but only part of them reproduced, with a higher inbreeding risk occurrence in the long-time. Currently, in the Alpine population, parentage tests are assessed through the analysis of 15 microsatellite loci (STRs), but the reduction of genetic variability in future generations will need the use of additional informative markers. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been proven to be useful and reliable in individual identification and family reconstruction; moreover, they can perform well on low-quality samples. In this study, we analysed 51 SNPs to generate a SNP multilocus genotype dataset of 54 Alpine brown bears (Ursus arctos) and compared its performance in parentage analysis with the validated STR dataset. We found that SNPs alone are not sufficient to determine parentage relationships, but the combination of SNPs and STRs provided unambiguous parentage assignments. The combined panel also performed better than STRs when true parents were not present in the dataset and, consequently, showed higher values of assignment probabilities.


Colony; FRANz; markers combination; microsatellites; monitoring; Ursus arctos arctos

Published in

Nature Conservation
2023, number: 53, pages: 105-123