The population sizes of the large carnivores - brown bear, grey wolf, wolverine, lynx and grey seal - has decreased dramatically during the last century in Finland. Population bottlenecks and population fragmentation may have decreased genetic variation and evolutionary potential of these species. Formerly there has been gene flow from northeast Russia into the populations of study species. However, the large carnivore populations in Russia are also declining and the amount of contemporary gene flow between the populations is not known.
The objectives of our research are to investigate within and between population genetic variation, effective population sizes, social structure and amount of inbreeding in large carnivores in these areas. In addition we are investigating the association between genetic diversity, gene expression and fitness characters of the studied individuals, and also possibility of adaptive variation in some candidate genes. We are using both autosomal and Y-chromosomal microsatellites, and also mtDNA variation to investigate population structure and maternal and paternal gene flow in these species. Especially the use of non-invasive sampling in monitoring the populations of large carnivores will be evaluated during the study.
In this research group we are investigating the metapopulation biology and genetics of fragmented and endangered species both in micro-and macrospatial scale using DNA-based methods. The aim of the research is to provide basic information for the management of endangered species and their habitats. We are conducting the research in close connection with ecologist studying the same species.
Under this research theme we are using the new DNA amplification techniques which allow the recovery of large quantities of DNA from minute amounts of fossil molecules. Ancient DNA (aDNA) retrieved from bones provides powerful molecular evidence for the identification of species, subspecies or populations, and to examine the genetic changes and phylogenetic relationships between extant and past populations, particularly when morphological and anatomical information is limited or insufficient. The genetic identification of archaeological faunas at the species level and below can be used in zooarchaeology to learn about which animal species had close interaction with humans and how they may have influenced their lifeways in terms of subsistence, traditions and/or beliefs. We are working together with prof. Milton Nunez and Dr. Jari Okkonen from the Archaeology laboratory (University of Oulu).
- Human-animal relationships in Sami culture at 1000 - 1800 AD: DNA and stable isotope analysis of bone samples