Abstract. Uncertainty currently exists regarding the extent to which mammalian carnivores suffer from inbreeding depression. In particular, it has been proposed that wolves and species with a similar social structure are adapted to close inbreeding. Empirical data, however, are scarce. This paper provides strong evidence against the contention that natural populations of wolves are resistant to inbreeding depression. We analyzed studbook data of a captive wolf population bred in Scandinavian zoos and found negative effects of inbreeding expressed as reductions in juvenile weight, reproduction, and longevity. The occurrence of an apparently bereditary form of blindness is also associated with inbreeding. Different effects of inbreeding can be attributed to genes originating from different founder pairs, thus indicating that alleles that are deleterious in the homozygous state are fairly common in natural wolf populations.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1991
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