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Genetic variation and structure of fisher (Martes pennanti) populations across North America

Authors

  • C. J. Kyle,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E9, Canada
      C. J. Kyle. Fax: (780) 492–9234; E-mail:ckyle@ualberta.ca
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  • J. F. Robitaille,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E9, Canada
    2. Department of Biology, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, P3E 2C6, Canada
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  • C. Strobeck

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E9, Canada
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C. J. Kyle. Fax: (780) 492–9234; E-mail:ckyle@ualberta.ca

Abstract

Fishers are mid-sized forest carnivores indigenous to North America that experienced sharp population declines from the early 1800s through to the mid-1900s. To evaluate levels of genetic variation within and subdivision among northern fisher populations 459 individuals were genotyped using 13 microsatellite loci. Genetic diversity was found to be slightly lower in re-introduced populations than in adjacent indigenous populations. Furthermore, fisher populations revealed much more genetic structuring than two closely related mustelids. Further investigation is needed to determine if fishers are more philopatric than martens and wolverines or if barriers to dispersal explain the levels of structure identified in this study.

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