Sebastian Eckern   


Genetic variability and population dynamics of the common weasel (Mustela nivalis) and other mustelids

The common weasel is the smallest predators on earth. It inhabits a wide range of ecosystems, from grasslands to forests and mountains up to a hight of approximately 3000 meters. Reasons for the significant fluctuations in the abundances of weasels in the Alpine region are unclear. But increasing car traffic and habitat fragmentation due to newly built roads are suggested reasons. Weasels from the vicinity of Vienna were compared by microsatellite analysis. Skin tissue samples were collected over a time range of 10 years to assess temporal development. The goal of this survey was to measure the influence of the reduction in abundance to the genetic variability. Possible causes for the decrease in abundance and probable forecasts for future development will be comprised.

Also other populations of the least weasel will be surveyed by non invasive sampling through hair snares. The goal is a comparison of genetic variability between different regions and habitats in central Europe.

The later surveys includes not only the least weasel, but other possibly endangered mustelids as well, mainly european pine marten (Martes martes), stoat (Mustela erminea), and european polecat (Mustela putorius).