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Reproductive success, relatedness and kin selection in wild boar, Sus scrofa




The common assumption wild boar groups mainly consist of close relatives, based solely on the observation of male yearlings leaving the group as soon as they became mature.

But even if all adults in a group are descendants of one mother and its daughters it’s quite unlikely for all of them having the same father except in some very rare cases. More often they might be offspring of different males which would lead to genetically differentiated lines after a few generations only depending on how many males sired the offspring.

How many males reproduce is as unknown as the mean male reproductive success or the range of time when they reproduce successfully. Also the question of how much certain female individuals or female groups take part in reproduction and if there is a correlation between reproductive success and the degree of kinship is still unanswered.

Genotyping with DNA microsatellites is a common method to determine the identity of an individual animal and is widely used in livestock breeding and wildlife conservation programs. With the help of eligible computer programs it is possible to determine the grade of sibship between two individuals or to calculate the likelihood of paternity and to reconstruct parenthood of otherwise unknown individuals. These methods allow us to estimate the level of kinship, size and density of populations or the individual reproductive success.



Present studies

Hunting bag analyses - In cooperation with the Rhineland-Palatinate Research Institute of Forest Ecology and Forestry we analyze tissue samples of hunting bags of a 160 square kilometer site in the Palatinate Forest by microsatellite genotyping. Additional biometrical data like size, age, sex, weight and hunting location should help us to gain a deeper insight in social system of the wild boar population.

Wild Boar Management in Lower Saxony - Radio telemetry in combination with microsatellite genotyping in a long term cooperation with the Institute of Wildlife Research at the School of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Lower Saxony, will help us to develop a better understanding of the population dynamics and habitat use of wild boar in the north of Lower Saxony.

Actual questions and future aims:


  • Are the members of sounder close relatives, i.e. mother, daughters and their piglets?
  • Which individuals have the highest reproductive success? Are there certain individuals who have a higher reproductive than other sounder members of the same age class?
  • Is there a correlation between kinship and reproductive success? Are the descendants of the the leading sow preferred in their reproductive success
  • The influence of hunting on the population structure




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