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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 15:53-61 (2011)  -  DOI:

Restoration and intensive management have no effect on evolutionary strategies

Matt W. Hayward1,2,5,*, Rafał Kowalczyk1, Zbigniew A. Krasiński3, Małgorzata Krasińska1, Jerzy Dackiewicz3, Thomas Cornulier1,4

1Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Science, ul. Waszkiewicza 1, 17-230 Białowieża, Poland
2Centre for Wildlife Management, University of Pretoria, 0001 Pretoria, South Africa
3Białowieża National Park, 17-230 Białowieża, Poland
4Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Zoology Building, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK
5Present address: Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Care P.O. Wentworth, New South Wales 2648, Australia

ABSTRACT: The European bison Bison bonasus is the largest extant terrestrial mammal on the European continent; however, the species went extinct in the wild in 1919. Restoration started in 1929 in Poland’s Białowiez˙a Primeval Forest using captive individuals sourced from zoological gardens and breeding centres. Of the 7 founders, 2 individuals contributed 85% to the genetic make-up of the lowland line of the species. The Białowiez˙a bison population numbered 820 in 2008, but very low genetic diversity and a high level of management have raised questions as to whether it still conforms to evolutionary predictions. We tested whether the sex ratio of European bison calves conformed to the Trivers-Willard hypothesis at the population level, i.e. whether it became increasingly female-biased as bison condition deteriorated following increased population density. We found that increased population density and reduced female body mass led to increasing female-biased calf sex ratios, whereas mast years (abundant food resources) corresponded to male-biased sex ratios. Despite the high degree of inbreeding and management, European bison are still responding as expected to variations in female body condition; however, the precautionary principle cautions managers of small populations that artificial selection can alter the evolutionary strategy of wildlife even though we did not detect this in theBiałowiez˙a bison population.

KEY WORDS: Body condition · Local resource competition hypothesis · Maternal investment · Reproductive success · Sex ratio manipulation · Trivers-Willard hypothesis · European bison · Ungulates

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Cite this article as: Hayward MW, Kowalczyk R, Krasiński ZA, Krasińska M, Dackiewicz J, Cornulier T (2011) Restoration and intensive management have no effect on evolutionary strategies. Endang Species Res 15:53-61.

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