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Report2024Open access

Lynx gene flow in Fennoscandia : estimation of gene flow within the Fennoscandian lynx population

Hemmingmoore, Heather; Åkesson, Mikael; Danielsson, Anna; Spong, Göran; Kleven, Oddmund; Kopatz, Alexander; Holmala, Katja; Andren, Henrik


This study assesses the connectivity and gene flow between Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) populations in Finland and Scandinavia for the purpose of providing data for the evaluation of favorable conservation status for the European Union Habitats Directive. Using tissue samples from deceased lynx in Fennoscandia, i.e., Sweden, Norway, and Finland, collected between 2019 and 2022, we genotyped these samples using 91 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). A separate data set was used for validation, consisting of 73 samples from Scandinavia collected between 2010 and 2015 that were RAD sequenced and genotyped using 881 SNPs. We assessed genetic structure within all of Fennoscandia, as well as genetic differentiation and recent gene flow between Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway) and Finland. We also estimated individual relatedness to identify first order relatives, or immediate family members, for the purpose of assessing contemporary connectivity. The results suggest distinct genetic differentiation between the Scandinavian and Finnish lynx populations, with migration rates of approximately eight migrants per generation in either direction, which is comparably low but likely sufficient to prevent complete genetic isolation. These findings have significant implications for lynx conservation strategies under the European Habitats Directive. They underscore the importance of maintaining genetic diversity and facilitating connectivity between transboundary populations, highlighting the need for collaborative management approaches between Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

Published in

Rapport från SLU Viltskadecenter
2024, number: 2024:2eISBN: 978-91-987585-7-3
Publisher: SLU Wildlife Damage Center, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences