Genetic analyses reveal independent domestication origins of Eurasian reindeer.
ABSTRACT: Although there is little doubt that the domestication of mammals was instrumental for the modernization of human societies, even basic features of the path towards domestication remain largely unresolved for many species. Reindeer are considered to be in the early phase of domestication with wild and domestic herds still coexisting widely across Eurasia. This provides a unique model system for understanding how the early domestication process may have taken place. We analysed mitochondrial sequences and nuclear microsatellites in domestic and wild herds throughout Eurasia to address the origin of reindeer herding and domestication history. Our data demonstrate independent origins of domestic reindeer in Russia and Fennoscandia. This implies that the Saami people of Fennoscandia domesticated their own reindeer independently of the indigenous cultures in western Russia. We also found that augmentation of local reindeer herds by crossing with wild animals has been common. However, some wild reindeer populations have not contributed to the domestic gene pool, suggesting variation in domestication potential among populations. These differences may explain why geographically isolated indigenous groups have been able to make the technological shift from mobile hunting to large-scale reindeer pastoralism independently.
Project description:The most southern population of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) inhabits northeastern China, but the migration route and origin of this population have not been confirmed. The sequences of mitochondrial DNA control regions from domestic and wild herds from Eurasia and China were analysed. The results showed that the Chinese reindeer population originated independently from north-central Russian domestic herds, belonging to a large reindeer population that was present across Beringia during the last glacial period. Some studies have reported that the Chinese reindeer population is closely related to wild forest reindeer herds in Russia. Our results, however, indicate that wild forest reindeer herds of southeastern Russia contributed little or nothing to the Chinese reindeer herd gene pool. Chinese reindeer herds have a much greater genetic similarity to more northerly distributed tundra-type herds that inhabit open areas. The present findings will be essential for future conservation planning for Chinese reindeer.
Project description:Just as the domestication of livestock is often cited as a key element in the Neolithic transition to settled, the emergence of large-scaled reindeer husbandry was a fundamental social transformation for the indigenous peoples of Arctic Eurasia. To better understand the history of reindeer domestication, and the genetic processes associated with the pastoral transition in the Eurasian Arctic, we analyzed archaeological and contemporary reindeer samples from Northwestern Siberia. The material represents Rangifer genealogies spanning from 15,000 years ago to the 18th century, as well as modern samples from the wild Ta?myr population and from domestic herds managed by Nenetses. The wild and the domestic population are the largest populations of their kind in Northern Eurasia, and some Nenetses hold their domestic reindeer beside their wild cousins. Our analyses of 197 modern and 223 ancient mitochondrial DNA sequences revealed two genetic clusters, which are interpreted as representing the gene pools of contemporary domestic and past wild reindeer. Among a total of 137 different mitochondrial haplotypes identified in both the modern and archaeological samples, only 21 were detected in the modern domestic gene pool, while 11 of these were absent from the wild gene pool. The significant temporal genetic shift that we associate with the pastoral transition suggests that the emergence and spread of reindeer pastoralism in Northwestern Siberia originated with the translocation and subsequent selective breeding of a special type of animal from outside the region. The distinct and persistent domestic characteristics of the haplotype structure since the 18th century suggests little genetic exchange since then. The absence of the typical domestic clade in modern nearby wild populations suggests that the contemporary Nenets domestic breed feature an ancestry from outside its present main distribution, possibly from further South.
Project description:Despite decades of research across multiple disciplines, the early history of horse domestication remains poorly understood. On the basis of current evidence from archaeology, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-chromosomal sequencing, a number of different domestication scenarios have been proposed, ranging from the spread of domestic horses out of a restricted primary area of domestication to the domestication of numerous distinct wild horse populations. In this paper, we reconstruct both the population genetic structure of the extinct wild progenitor of domestic horses, Equus ferus, and the origin and spread of horse domestication in the Eurasian steppes by fitting a spatially explicit stepping-stone model to genotype data from >300 horses sampled across northern Eurasia. We find strong evidence for an expansion of E. ferus out of eastern Eurasia about 160 kya, likely reflecting the colonization of Eurasia by this species. Our best-fitting scenario further suggests that horse domestication originated in the western part of the Eurasian steppe and that domestic herds were repeatedly restocked with local wild horses as they spread out of this area. By showing that horse domestication was initiated in the western Eurasian steppe and that the spread of domestic herds across Eurasia involved extensive introgression from the wild, the scenario of horse domestication proposed here unites evidence from archaeology, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-chromosomal DNA.
Project description:Reindeer herding probably developed during the Late Iron Age onwards and is still an important part of the subsistence and culture of many peoples in northern Eurasia. However, despite the importance of this husbandry in the history of these Arctic people, the period and place of the origin as well as the spread of domestic reindeer is still highly debated. Besides the existence of different breeding methods in these territories, identifying domesticated individuals in the archaeological record is complicated because reindeers are considered to still be in the early phases of the domestication process. Indeed, the traditional morphological markers used in zooarchaeology to decipher the domestication syndrome are hardly perceptible in these early stages. In this work, we propose solutions for identifying domestic reindeer bones using 3D geometric morphometrics on isolated elements from the long bones of the forelimb (i.e. humerus, radio-ulna and metacarpal). These bones are important to understand both the feeding behaviour and the mobility of reindeer, and the potential effect of load-carrying or draught in the case of domestic reindeer. We analysed 123 modern specimens from Fennoscandia, including the two interbreeding subspecies currently present in these territories: mountain reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) and forest reindeer (R.t. fennicus); and where the sex and the lifestyle were known (i.e. free-ranging, racing or draught and captive individuals). A good level of discrimination between the size and shape variables of the bones of the forelimb was found among both subspecies and sexes. Moreover, individuals bred in captivity had smaller bone elements and a thinner and more slender morphology than free-ranging individuals. This demonstrates that the long bones of the forelimb can provide information on changes in feeding and locomotor behaviour prompted by the domestication process, like control and/or reduction of mobility and food of individual reindeer by humans. This also demonstrates that analysis in 3D geometric morphometrics is useful in detecting reindeer incipient domestication markers. Our results can be used by archaeologists to trace the early stages of domestication from fossil reindeer remains, and aid in reconstructing the socio-economic changes of past Arctic populations over time.
Project description:This study investigates the genetic effect of an indigenous tradition of deliberate and controlled interbreeding between wild and domestic Rangifer. The results are interpreted in the context of conservation concerns and debates on the origin of domestic animals. The study is located in Northeastern Zaba?kal'e, Russia at approximately 57 degrees North latitude. Blood and skin samples, collected from wild and domestic Rangifer, are analyzed for their mtDNA and microsatellite signatures. Local husbandry traditions are documented ethnographically. The genetic data are analyzed with special reference to indigenous understandings of the distinctions between local domestic types and wild Rangifer. The genetic results demonstrate a strong differentiation between wild and domestic populations. Notably low levels of mtDNA haplotype sharing between wild and domestic reindeer, suggest mainly male-mediated gene flow between the two gene pools. The nuclear microsatellite results also point to distinct differences between regional domestic clusters. Our results indicate that the Evenki herders have an effective breeding technique which, while mixing pedigrees in the short term, guards against wholesale introgression between wild and domestic populations over the long term. They support a model of domestication where wild males and domestic females are selectively interbred, without hybridizing the two populations. Our conclusions inform a debate on the origins of domestication by documenting a situation where both wild and domestic types are in constant interaction. The study further informs a debate in conservation biology by demonstrating that certain types of controlled introgression between wild and domestic types need not reduce genetic diversity.
Project description:This paper studies the practice of semi-domestic reindeer (Rangifer t. tarandus) herding in Finnmark county in northern Norway. In this area, the Saami reindeer herders compete for space and grazing areas and keep large herds, while at the same time, the reindeer population is heavily exposed to carnivore predation by the lynx (Lynx lynx), the wolverine (Gulo gulo), and the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). It is demonstrated that predation actually may improve the economic lot of livestock holders in this unmanaged local common setting. There are ecological as well as economic reasons as to why this happens. The ecological reason is that predation compensates for natural mortality; that is, increased predation reduces natural mortality, indicating that the net loss due to predation actually may be quite small. When predation reduces livestock density, the feeding conditions of the animals will improve, resulting in increased livestock weight and higher per animal slaughter value. At the same time, a smaller stock reduces the operating costs of the herders.
Project description:Reindeer species (Rangifer tarandus, Linnaeus, 1758) includes wild and semi-domesticated ruminants belonging to Capreaolinae subfamily of Cervidae family reared in Eurasia (reindeer subspecies) and North America (caribou subspecies). Herding of reindeer has a great historical, socio-economic and ecological importance, especially to indigenous ethnic minorities. Infectious disease threats may therefore impact not solely the animal population driving it to further extinction and irreversible alterations to the wild environments of northern hemisphere, but also add to cultural changes observed as negative impact of globalization. Introduction of new technologies to control of reindeer migration between dwindling pasture areas and intensification of reindeer husbandry may facilitate the intra- and interspecies transmission of pathogens. The role of the reindeer as a potential BVDV reservoir has been studied, however, the number of publications is rather limited. The observed seroprevalences of the virus varied significantly between different geographical regions with different epidemiological situation. Most frequently limited number of animals studied and the differences in the sensitivities and specificities of the diagnostic test used could have also influenced on the differences between the studies. No pestivirus has been ever detected in free-ranging reindeer, however, a putative pestivirus strain named V60-Krefeld has been isolated from reindeer kept at a German Zoo in the 1990's. The virus was characterized as border disease virus type 2 (BDV-2) closely related to German ovine strains. The cross-neutralization studies of the semi-domesticated reindeer sera from Sweden suggested infection with a strain related to BDV-1 or BDV-2. The available data indicates that reindeer might be infected by a endemic species-specific BDV-like strain. However, the interspecies transmission of BVDV from domestic animals should not be excluded, since the susceptibility of reindeer to BVDV-1 has been confirmed under experimental conditions.
Project description:Sea ice loss is accelerating in the Barents and Kara Seas (BKS). Assessing potential linkages between sea ice retreat/thinning and the region's ancient and unique social-ecological systems is a pressing task. Tundra nomadism remains a vitally important livelihood for indigenous Nenets and their large reindeer herds. Warming summer air temperatures have been linked to more frequent and sustained summer high-pressure systems over West Siberia, Russia, but not to sea ice retreat. At the same time, autumn/winter rain-on-snow (ROS) events have become more frequent and intense. Here, we review evidence for autumn atmospheric warming and precipitation increases over Arctic coastal lands in proximity to BKS ice loss. Two major ROS events during November 2006 and 2013 led to massive winter reindeer mortality episodes on the Yamal Peninsula. Fieldwork with migratory herders has revealed that the ecological and socio-economic impacts from the catastrophic 2013 event will unfold for years to come. The suggested link between sea ice loss, more frequent and intense ROS events and high reindeer mortality has serious implications for the future of tundra Nenets nomadism.
Project description:A major challenge in biodiversity conservation is to facilitate viable populations of large apex predators in ecosystems where they were recently driven to ecological extinction due to resource conflict with humans.Monetary compensation for losses of livestock due to predation is currently a key instrument to encourage human-carnivore coexistence. However, a lack of quantitative estimates of livestock losses due to predation leads to disagreement over the practice of compensation payments. This disagreement sustains the human-carnivore conflict.The level of depredation on year-round, free-ranging, semi-domestic reindeer by large carnivores in Fennoscandia has been widely debated over several decades. In Norway, the reindeer herders claim that lynx and wolverine cause losses of tens of thousands of animals annually and cause negative population growth in herds. Conversely, previous research has suggested that monetary predator compensation can result in positive population growth in the husbandry, with cascading negative effects of high grazer densities on the biodiversity in tundra ecosystems.We utilized a long-term, large-scale data set to estimate the relative importance of lynx and wolverine predation and density-dependent and climatic food limitation on claims for losses, recruitment and population growth rates in Norwegian reindeer husbandry.Claims of losses increased with increasing predator densities, but with no detectable effect on population growth rates. Density-dependent and climatic effects on claims of losses, recruitment and population growth rates were much stronger than the effects of variation in lynx and wolverine densities.Synthesis and applications. Our analysis provides a quantitative basis for predator compensation and estimation of the costs of reintroducing lynx and wolverine in areas with free-ranging semi-domestic reindeer. We outline a potential path for conflict management which involves adaptive monitoring programmes, open access to data, herder involvement and development of management strategy evaluation (MSE) models to disentangle complex responses including multiple stakeholders and individual harvester decisions.
Project description:Reindeer are semi-domesticated ruminants that have adapted to the challenging northern Eurasian environment characterized by long winters and marked annual fluctuations in daylight. We explored the genetic makeup behind their unique characteristics by de novo sequencing the genome of a male reindeer and conducted gene family analyses with nine other mammalian species. We performed a population genomics study of 23 additional reindeer representing both domestic and wild populations and several ecotypes from various geographic locations. We assembled 2.66?Gb (N50 scaffold of 5?Mb) of the estimated 2.92?Gb reindeer genome, comprising 27,332 genes. The results from the demographic history analysis suggested marked changes in the effective population size of reindeer during the Pleistocene period. We detected 160 reindeer-specific and expanded genes, of which zinc finger proteins (n?=?42) and olfactory receptors (n?=?13) were the most abundant. Comparative genome analyses revealed several genes that may have promoted the adaptation of reindeer, such as those involved in recombination and speciation (PRDM9), vitamin D metabolism (TRPV5, TRPV6), retinal development (PRDM1, OPN4B), circadian rhythm (GRIA1), immunity (CXCR1, CXCR2, CXCR4, IFNW1), tolerance to cold-triggered pain (SCN11A) and antler development (SILT2). The majority of these characteristic reindeer genes have been reported for the first time here. Moreover, our population genomics analysis suggested at least two independent reindeer domestication events with genetic lineages originating from different refugial regions after the Last Glacial Maximum. Taken together, our study has provided new insights into the domestication, evolution and adaptation of reindeer and has promoted novel genomic research of reindeer.