Effects of population size reduction on genetic variability of reintroduced southern flying squirrels
Demographic bottlenecks, or reductions in population size, are predicted to result in loss of genetic variability. However, the genetic consequences of demographic bottlenecks, such as those that may occur during translocations, are poorly studied in nature. I used four microsatellite and one mitochondrial DNA marker to test whether a genetic bottleneck has occurred in a population of southern flying squirrels, 'Glaucomys volans', that were reintroduced to Point Pelee National Park (PPNP), Ontario, in 1993/94. The established population was compared to its source population in Haldimand-Norfolk (HN). Population size in 2001 in PPNP was estimated to be 591 (575-638) individuals; a six-fold increase from 99 founders over seven years. No signatures of a genetic bottleneck were identified. These findings do not support conventional wisdom in conservation genetics that population bottlenecks result in the loss of genetic variability. Long-term genetic and demographic monitoring of translocated populations may clarify the role of genetic variability in population viability.