Scientists are increasingly concerned about the genetic health of UK otters

A long-running study by Cardiff University’s Otter Project has shown that the genetic health of Britain’s otters may be endangering them despite conservation efforts.

Studying data over two decades, the team has for the first time mapped the changing pattern of beaver Genetics.

They found it while otters Population Numbers have recovered across the UK after declining in the mid-20th century, and there has been a lag in the genetic recovery.

It was expected that as populations grow and previously isolated populations reconnect, genetic diversity among mammals will increase.

The new research shows that although there is movement between otter habitats, there is a lack of genetic diversity in UK populations, leaving them vulnerable to disease, which could pose a risk. conservation efforts.

Dr Nia Thomas, lead author of the study based in the University’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “Otters have long been hailed as a conservation success story in the UK, however, our study highlights that we should not be complacent about otters. Recovering, where genetic findings tell a different story, sea otters across the UK have not reconnected at a genetic level.

“Understanding why this occurs and the limitations that may affect genetic mixing is critical. More research is needed to understand whether this delay in Genetic diversity Among the population of otters will improve.

Recent surveys such as The National Otter Survey Wales have shown a decline in otter numbers.

Dr Elizabeth Chadwick, Otter Project Leader at Cardiff University and co-author, said: “This is something we should all be concerned about – not only are otters one of Britain’s best-loved mammals, but they also provide a warning about the state of the freshwater systems we all depend on.

“Our findings paint a worrying picture and highlight an underappreciated aspect of population recovery.

It also shows how to do it Genetic data An integral part of conservation monitoring, to enable assessment of potential population vulnerabilities.”

The Otter Project at Cardiff University is a long-term blueprint for environmental monitoring research. The research relies on the public or authorities reporting otters found dead to investigate contaminants, disease and population biology of otters across the UK

The study, “National genetic monitoring over 21 years reveals a delay in genetic recovery despite spatial connectivity in an expanding group of carnivores (Eurasian otter, Lutra lutra),” is published in the journal evolutionary applications.

more information:
Thomas et al., Country-wide genetic monitoring over 21 years reveals a delay in genetic recovery despite spatial connectivity in an expanding group of carnivores (Eurasian otter, Lutra lutra), evolutionary applications (2022). DOI: 10.1111/eva.13505

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the quote: Scientists concerned about genetic health of otters in the UK (2022, 16 November) Retrieved 16 November 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-scientists-genetic-health-otters-uk.html

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