Bone pathology in small isolated grey wolf (Canis lupus) populations

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Remote access:

Topic of the dissertation

Bone pathology in small isolated grey wolf (Canis lupus) populations

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science Jannikke Räikkönen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Science, Ecology and Genetics Research Unit

Subject of study

Bone pathology


Professor Christopher Darimont , University of Victoria, Canada


Professor Jouni Aspi, University of Oulu

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Bone pathology in wolf (Canis lupus) populations

Many populations of large carnivores are fragmented today and are therefore vulnerable to the harmful effects of inbreeding. The general aim of the research in this thesis is to study bone pathology in two small, inbred more or less isolated wolf (Canis lupus) populations including two reference populations.

The central finding in this study was that despite intense long-term observation of small-inbred populations anomalies were prevalent and undetected. The results revealed different types of malformations and showed that the longer a population has been genetically isolated the higher the frequency of certain congenital vertebral malformations. The frequencies of vertebral malformations increased over time in the most inbred population. The same pattern was evident in in the other inbred population when multiple types of anomalies were considered. Population health is central for the conservation and management of isolated populations. But in wild populations inbreeding and health effects are usually difficult to assess. Analysis of skeletal remains gives a broader picture of the state of health in a population and can facilitate the detection of population degeneration.

The results of this thesis have implication for understanding population health in populations and are an important aspect for population health monitoring. This thesis was based on published articles that included collaboration between several institutions. The thesis work was supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation North Ostrobothnia Regional Fund.
Last updated: 1.3.2023