Unravelling the Scientific Debate on How to Address Wolf-Dog Hybridization in Europe

Donfrancesco, Valerio and Ciucci, Paolo and Salvatori, Valeria and Benson, David and Andersen, Liselotte Wesley and Bassi, Elena and Blanco, Juan Carlos and Boitani, Luigi and Caniglia, Romolo and Canu, Antonio and Capitani, Claudia and Chapron, Guillaume and Czarnomska, Sylwia D. and Fabbri, Elena and Galaverni, Marco and Galov, Ana and Gimenez, Olivier and Godinho, Raquel and Greco, Claudia and Hindrikson, Maris and Huber, Djuro and Hulva, Pavel and Jedrzejewski, Włodzimierz and Kusak, Josip and Linnell, John D. C. and Llaneza, Luis and López-Bao, José Vicente and Männil, Peep and Marucco, Francesca and Mattioli, Luca and Milanesi, Pietro and Milleret, Cyril and Mysłajek, Robert W. and Ordiz, Andres and Palacios, Vicente and Pedersen, Hans Christian and Pertoldi, Cino and Pilot, Malgorzata and Randi, Ettore and Rodríguez, Alejandro and Saarma, Urmas and Sand, Håkan and Scandura, Massimo and Stronen, Astrid Vik and Tsingaraska, Elena and Mukherjee, Nibedita (2019) Unravelling the Scientific Debate on How to Address Wolf-Dog Hybridization in Europe. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7 . ISSN 2296-701X

Full content URL: http://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2019.00175

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Unravelling the Scientific Debate on How to Address Wolf-Dog Hybridization in Europe
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Abstract

Anthropogenic hybridization is widely perceived as a threat to the conservation of biodiversity. Nevertheless, to date, relevant policy and management interventions are unresolved and highly convoluted. While this is due to the inherent complexity of the issue, we hereby hypothesize that a lack of agreement concerning management goals and approaches, within the scientific community, may explain the lack of social awareness on this phenomenon, and the absence of effective pressure on decision-makers. By focusing on wolf x dog hybridization in Europe, we hereby (a) assess the state of the art of issues on wolf x dog hybridization within the scientific community, (b) assess the conceptual bases for different viewpoints, and (c) provide a conceptual framework aiming at reducing the disagreements. We adopted the Delphi technique, involving a three-round iterative survey addressed to a selected sample of experts who published at Web of Science listed journals, in the last 10 years on wolf x dog hybridization and related topics. Consensus was reached that admixed individuals should always be defined according to their genetic profile, and that a reference threshold for admixture (i.e., q-value in assignment tests) should be formally adopted for their identification. To mitigate hybridization, experts agreed on adopting preventive, proactive and, when concerning small and recovering wolf populations, reactive interventions. Overall, experts' consensus waned as the issues addressed became increasingly practical, including the adoption of lethal removal. We suggest three non-mutually exclusive explanations for this trend: (i) value-laden viewpoints increasingly emerge when addressing practical issues, and are particularly diverging between experts with different disciplinary backgrounds (e.g., ecologists, geneticists); (ii) some experts prefer avoiding the risk of potentially giving carte blanche to wolf opponents to (illegally) remove wolves, based on the wolf x dog hybridization issue; (iii) room for subjective interpretation and opinions result from the paucity of data on the effectiveness of different management interventions. These results have management implications and reveal gaps in the knowledge on a wide spectrum of issues related not only to the management of anthropogenic hybridization, but also to the role of ethical values and real-world management concerns in the scientific debate.

Keywords:hybridization, wolf, dog
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C170 Population Biology
C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
C Biological Sciences > C180 Ecology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:36024
Deposited On:21 May 2019 08:16

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