Population structure and dispersal
DNA extracted from otter muscle and spraint is used to identify the genetic structure of the UK otter population.
Dynamics of demographic expansion and population structure.
Nia Thomas, PhD Student (2016-present) funded through the NERC GW4+ DTP and Somerset Otter Group.
Nia will examine how otters continue to recolonise the UK. Furthermore, using advances in molecular techniques she aims to gain new information on home range and (potentially sex-biased) dispersal, and to examine the permeability of landscape barriers to movement.
Genetic structure of the UK otter population.
Completed in 2009 Dr Geoff Hobbs' PhD research identified four distinct regional populations and a total of 11 smaller sub-groups. Further research is focusing on how landscape limits genetic mixing.
Genetic diversity and structure was also assessed using mitochondrial DNA. This work, by Dr Dave Stanton, showed that otter populations in the UK have a higher haplotype diversity than that found for populations in Europe. Western UK populations have a particularly high level of genetic distinctiveness.
- Hobbs, G. I. et al. 2011. Bayesian clustering techniques and progressive partitioning to identify population structuring within a recovering otter population in the UK. Journal of Applied Ecology 48 (5), pp.1206-1217. (10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.02028.x)
- Stanton, D. W. G. et al. 2014. Contrasting genetic structure of the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) across a latitudinal divide. Journal of Mammalogy 95 (4), pp.814-823. (10.1644/13-MAMM-A-201)
- Stanton, D. W. G. et al., 2009. Mitochondrial genetic diversity and structure of the European otter (Lutra lutra) in Britain. Conservation Genetics 10 (3), pp.733-737. (10.1007/s10592-008-9633-y)
- Hobbs, G. et al., 2006. Landscape genetics applied to a recovering otter (Lutra lutra) population in the UK: Preliminary results and potential methodologies. Hystrix : the Italian Journal of Mammalogy 17 (1)(10.4404/hystrix-17.1-4364)