Genetic variation in caribou and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)

Anim Genet. 2003 Feb;34(1):33-41. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2052.2003.00927.x.


Genetic variation at seven microsatellite DNA loci was quantified in 19 herds of wild caribou and domestic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) from North America, Scandinavia and Russia. There is an average of 2.0-6.6 alleles per locus and observed individual heterozygosity of 0.33-0.50 in most herds. A herd on Svalbard Island, Scandinavia, is an exception, with relatively few alleles and low heterozygosity. The Central Arctic, Western Arctic and Porcupine River caribou herds in Alaska have similar allele frequencies and comprise one breeding population. Domestic reindeer in Alaska originated from transplants from Siberia, Russia, more than 100 years ago. Reindeer in Alaska and Siberia have different allele frequencies at several loci, but a relatively low level of genetic differentiation. Wild caribou and domestic reindeer in Alaska have significantly different allele frequencies at the seven loci, indicating that gene flow between reindeer and caribou in Alaska has been limited.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA Primers
  • Europe
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Geography
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • North America
  • Phylogeny*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Reindeer / genetics*


  • DNA Primers