The analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences has for a long time been the most extensively used genetic tool for phylogenetic, phylogeographic and population genetic studies. Since this approach only considers female lineages, it tends to give a biased picture of the population history. The use of protein polymorphisms and microsatellites has helped to obtain a more unbiased view, but complementing population genetic studies with Y chromosome markers could clarify the role of each sex in natural processes. In this study we analysed genetic variability at four microsatellite loci on the canid Y chromosome. With these four microsatellites we constructed haplotypes and used them to study the genetic status of the Scandinavian wolf population, a population that now contains 60–70 animals but was thought to have been extinct in the 1970s. In a sample of 100 male wolves from northern Europe we found 17 different Y chromosome haplotypes. Only two of these were found in the current Scandinavian population. This indicates that there should have been at least two males involved in the founding of the Scandinavian wolf population after the bottleneck in the 1970s. The two Scandinavian Y chromosome haplotypes were not found elsewhere in northern Europe, which indicates low male gene flow between Scandinavia and the neighbouring countries.
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