Brief Communications

Nature 402, 34-35 (4 November 1999) | doi:10.1038/46941

Conservation biology: Restoration of an inbred adder population

Thomas Madsen1,1, Richard Shine2, Mats Olsson3 & Håkan Wittzell4

The negative effects of inbreeding on population size are well documented in captive animals1, but there is surprisingly little evidence that genetic factors cause a decline in wild populations2, 3, apart from a reported correlation of low levels of genetic variability with a high incidence of malformed or stillborn offspring4. From the point of view of conservation strategies, it is not only the effect of genetic factors on population decline that needs to be considered, but also whether introducing novel genes can prevent or reverse such a decline. Here we show that the introduction of new genes into a severely inbred and isolated population of adders (Vipera berus) halted its precipitous decline towards extinction and expanded the population dramatically.

  1. School of Biological Sciences A08, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia
  2. Department of Animal Ecology, Lund University, Lund 223 62, Sweden
  3. Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology, University of Gothenburg, Box 463, Gothenburg 405 30, Sweden
  4. Department of Theoretical Ecology, Lund University, Lund 223 62, Sweden