general info about Theriologia Ukrainica

Theriologia Ukrainica

ISSN 2616-7379 (print) • ISSN 2617-1120 (online)

2023 • Vol. 25 • Contents of volume >>>

download pdfMolchan, V., K. Homel, A. Valnisty, M. Nikiforov, E. Kheidorova. 2023. Genetic diversity of mtDNA in the grey wolf population of Belarus threatened by wolf-dog admixture. Theriologia Ukrainica, 25: 87–99. [In English, with Ukrainian summary]



Genetic diversity of mtDNA in the grey wolf population of Belarus threatened by wolf-dog admixture


Vladislav Molchan (orcid: 0000-0003-1070-1938),
Kanstantsin Homel (orcid: 0000-0002-2396-1387),
Arseni Valnisty (orcid: 0000-0002-3612-1467),
Mikhael Nikiforov (orcid: 0000-0003-1773-1128),
Ekaterina Kheidorova (orcid: 0000-0002-1341-9914)


Scientific and Practical Center of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus for Bioresources (Minsk, Belarus)


Theriologia Ukrainica. 2023. Vol. 25: 87–99.




English, with Ukrainian summary, titles of tables, captures to figs


Hybridisation with domestic species is one of the prominent threats to conser-vation of numerous valuable species in Belarus, in particular the grey wolf (Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758), the population of which has previously shown unusually divergent genotypes, indicating a possible admixture with free-ranging dogs (Canis lupus familiaris Linnaeus, 1758). Such admixture could threaten the future of the species already weakened by anthropogenic pressure. Reports of hybrids in Belarus based on morphological characteristics have been steadily increasing in frequency since 2010, which can be tied with a growing food availability for feral dogs and low population density of grey wolf facili-tating hybridisation. A limited number of genetic studies with sampling that partially covered Belarus did not detect any traces of hybridisation. Here we report our estimate of genetic diversity in the Belarusian population of grey wolf according to control region (D-loop) mtDNA sequence analysis. We ana-lysed tissue samples from 35 specimens harvested during legal hunts across 25 administrative districts from all 6 regions of Belarus between 2009 and 2022, with 9 of the specimens reported to have morphological characteristics of wolf–dog hybrids. We detected 6 haplotypes among those 35 specimens, 4 of which were found among the likely wolf–dog hybrids. Clade analysis of the obtained sequences with 100 confirmed sequences of wolves, dogs, and their hybrids from the NCBI Genbank database has shown the presence of possible wolf–dog hybrids in our sample. The Belarusian wolf population has shown a low nucleotide and a relatively high haplotype diversity. The discovered genet-ic diversity data of the Belarusian wolf population is mostly in line with studies of similar wolf populations across Europe. The persistence of large wolf meta-populations across Eastern Europe and Russia, combined with the high mobility of the animal, seems to be the probable cause of genetic diversity of wolf populations in Belarus, but some degree of wolf–dog hybridisation could also explain the observed genetic heterogeneity, which invites further research based on nuclear markers.


wolf, dog, D-loop, mtDNA, hybridisation, genetic diversity, Belarus



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