Portal to the Lesser White-fronted Goose

- by the Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose project

Literature type: Scientific

Journal: Molecular phylogenetics and evolution

Volume: 23 , Pages: 339-356.

DOI: 10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00019-2

Language: English

Full reference: Donne-Goussé, C., Laudet, V. & Hänni, C. 2002. A molecular phylogeny of anseriformes based on mitochondrial DNA analysis. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 23: 339-356. https://www.dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00019-2

Keywords: anseriformes, mtDNA, control region, waterfowl


To study the phylogenetic relationships among Anseriformes, sequences for the complete mitochondrial control region (CR) were determined from 45 waterfowl representing 24 genera, i.e., half of the existing genera. To confirm the results based on CR analysis we also analyzed representative species based on two mitochondrial protein-coding genes, cytochrome b (cytb) and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 (ND2). These data allowed us to construct a robust phylogeny of the Anseriformes and to compare it with existing phylogenies based on morphological or molecular data. Chauna and Dendrocygna were identified as early offshoots of the Anseriformes. All the remaining taxa fell into two clades that correspond to the two subfamilies Anatinae and Anserinae. Within Anserinae Branta and Anser cluster together, whereas Coscoroba, Cygnus, and Cereopsis form a relatively weak clade with Cygnus diverging first. Five clades are clearly recognizable among Anatinae: (i) the Anatini with Anas and Lophonetta; (ii) the Aythyini with Aythya and Netta; (iii) the Cairinini with Cairina and Aix; (iv) the Mergini with Mergus, Bucephala, Melanitta, Callonetta, Somateria, and Clangula, and (v) the Tadornini with Tadorna, Chloephaga, and Alopochen. The Tadornini diverged early on from the Anatinae; then the Mergini and a large group that comprises the Anatini, Aythyini, Cairinini, and two isolated genera, Chenonetta and Marmaronetta, diverged. The phylogeny obtained with the control region appears more robust than the one obtained with mitochondrial protein-coding genes such as ND2 and cytb. This suggests that the CR is a powerful tool for bird phylogeny, not only at a small scale (i.e., relationships between species) but also at the family level. Whereas morphological analysis effectively resolved the split between Anatinae and Anserinae and the existence of some of the clades, the precise composition of the clades are different when morphological and molecular data are compared

Literature type: Scientific

Journal: Conservation Genetics

Volume: 1 , Pages: 277-283.

DOI: 10.1023/A:1011509922762

Language: English

Full reference: Ruokonen, M., Kvist, L., Tegelström, H., Lumme, J. 2000. Goose hybrids, captive breeding and restocking of the Fennoscandian populations of the Lesser White-fronted goose (Anser erythropus). Conservation Genetics 1: 277-283. https://www.dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1011509922762

Keywords: captive stock, hybrids, mitochondrial DNA, reintroduction


The lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus) is the most threatened of the Palearctic goose species with a declining population trend throughout its distributional range. The current estimate of the Fennoscandian subpopulation size is 30–50 breeding pairs, whereas it still numbered more than 10 000 individuals at the beginning of the last century. Reintroduction and restocking have been carried out in Sweden and Finland using captive lesser white-fronted goose stock with unknown origins. We have carried out a study of the genetic composition of captive-bred stock by sequencing a 221 bp hypervariable fragment of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region from 15 individuals from the Hailuoto farm, Finland. Two out of the three maternal lineages detected in the captive stock are also present in wild populations. The third maternal lineage among the captive lesser white-fronted geese originates from the closely related greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons). None of the investigated wild lesser white-fronted goose individuals carried themtDNA of the greater white-fronted goose. The presence of greater white-fronted goose mtDNA in the lesser white-fronted goose captive stock suggests that hybridization has occurred during captive propagation.

Literature type: Scientific

Journal: Journal of Evolutionary Biology

Volume: 13 , Pages: 532-540.

DOI: DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2000.00184.x

Language: English


Full reference: Ruokonen, M., Kvist, L. & Lumme, J. 2000. Close relatedness between mitochondrial DNA from seven Anser goose species. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 13: 532-540. https://www.dx.doi.org/DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2000.00184.x

Keywords: control region, mtDNA, nuclear copy, phylogeny, Pleistocene


The phylogenetic relationships of seven goose species and two of the subspecies representing the genus Anser were studied by approximately 1180 bp of mitochondrial DNA tRNAglu, control region and tRNAphe sequences. Despite obvious morphological and behavioural affinities among the species, their evolutionary relationships have not been studied previously. The small amount of genetic differentiation observed in the mitochondrial DNA indicates an extremely close evolutionary relationship between the Anser species. The sequence divergences between the species (0.9±5.5%) are among the lowest reported for avian species with speciation events of Anser geese dating to late Pliocene and Pleistocene. The species grouped into four mtDNA lineages: (1) snow and Ross' goose, (2) greylag goose, (3) white-fronted goose, and (4) bean, pink-footed and lesser white-fronted goose. The phylogenetic relationships of the most closely related species, bean, pink-footed and lesser white-fronted goose, indicate a period of rapid cladogenesis. The poor agreement between morphological relationships and the phylogenetic relationships indicated by mtDNA sequences implies that either ancestral polymorphism and lineage sorting, hybridization and introgression or convergent evolution has been involved.

Literature type: Scientific

Journal: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology

Volume: 8 , Pages: 280-287.

DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1212(199807/08)8:4<280::AID-OA428>3.0.CO;2-J

Language: English

Full reference: Barnes, I., Dobney, K.M. & Young, P.W. 1998. The Molecular Palaeoecology of Geese: Identification of Archaeological Goose Remains using Ancient DNA Analysis. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 8: 280-287. https://www.dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1212(199807/08)8:4<280::AID-OA428>3.0.CO;2-J

Keywords: ancient DNA, anser, Branta, geese, mitochondrial DNA, polymerase chain reaction


The remains of six species of geese are commonly recovered from archaeological sites in Britain dating from the Saxon and later periods. However, identification of this material to species level is hampered by a lack of morphological variation and a large overlap in size. To address this issue we obtained DNA sequence data for a section of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene from modern samples of each species, and successfully identified several DNA markers for Branta species. No markers were found within the cytochrome b gene for the genus Anser. Ancient DNA techniques were then used to recover DNA from goose bones excavated from two archaeological sites. The DNA sequences enabled identification of Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis) from one site and confirmed the presence of Anser species at another.

Number of results: 4