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Estimating population size using single‐nucleotide polymorphism‐based pedigree data

Spitzer, R., Norman, A.J., Schneider, M., Spong, G.

Reliable population estimates are an important aspect of sustainable wildlife management and conservation but can be difficult to obtain for rare and elusive species. Here, we test a new census method based on pedigree reconstruction recently developed by Creel and Rosenblatt (2013). Using a panel of 96 single‐nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we genotyped fecal samples from two Swedish brown bear populations for pedigree reconstruction. Based on 433 genotypes from central Sweden (CS) and 265 from northern Sweden (NS), the population estimates (N = 630 for CS, N = 408 for NS) fell within the 95% CI of the official estimates. The precision and accuracy improved with increasing sampling intensity. Like genetic capture–mark–recapture methods, this method can be applied to data from a single sampling session. Pedigree reconstruction combined with noninvasive genetic sampling may thus augment population estimates, particularly for rare and elusive species for which sampling may be challenging.

Citation

Spitzer, R., Norman, A.J., Schneider, M., Spong, G. "Estimating population size using single‐nucleotide polymorphism‐based pedigree data" Ecology and Evolution (2016): 3,174–84