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Extreme Inbreeding Likely Spells Doom for Isle Royale Wolves

posted Jun 24, 2016, 8:24 PM by chloe owens

4/18/16, by Christine Mlot, Science

Extreme inbreeding likely spells doom for Isle Royale Wolves

Like a spent royal family dynasty, the wolves of Isle Royale, Michigan, have reached a genetic dead end.  The two wolves remaining on the Lake Superior island, a male and female, are more inbred than any known wild wolves – and more inbred than some infamous human families; their relationship is so close that “we don’t have a word to describe [it] (father and daughter as well as half siblings), says wildlife ecologist Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University in Houghton. “There is no reason to expect this pair will flourish.” The two wolves are the only survivors of an iconic population…in the world’s longest running predator-prey study, a staple of ecology textbooks…A few years ago, eight to nine wolves roamed the island, but the population dwindled to three last year.