I am primarily interested in the importance of genetic variation at the individual and population level. This includes better understanding the effects and processes behind inbreeding, relatedness structures and genetic drift in small and isolated populations, such as the Scandinavian wolves.
Since 2006, I have primarily worked with a project, commissioned by the The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket), to analyse DNA-samples with the purpose of assisting the yearly monitoring of the Scandinavian wolf population. With molecular methods we are able produce genetic profiles from DNA-samples at variable sites in the genome of wolves. DNA-samples are collected both directly from live caught or dead wolves and indirectly from tracks found in the field (including faeces, hair and oestrous blood). Based on the information from the genetic profiles we can determine the origin of the samples with respect to species, population, individual identity, sex and parental identity. In this way we provide information that enables us to identify and map territorial wolves, breeding pairs and identify wolves that cause damage on livestock. Moreover, we provide a yearly updated pedigree of the population together an estimate of the inbreeding level.
Milleret, C., Wabakken, P. Liberg, O., Åkesson, M., Flagstad, Ø., Andreassen, H.P., Sand, H. 2017. Let us stay together? Intrinsic and extrinsic factors involved in pair bond dissolution in a recolonizing wolf population. Journal of Animal Ecology 86(1):43-54
Åkesson, M., Liberg, O., Sand, H., Wabakken, P., Bensch, S., Flagstad, Ø. 2016. Genetic rescue in a severly inbred wolf population. Molecular Ecology. 25(19:4745-4756.
Chapron, G., Wikenros, C., Liberg, O., Wabakken, P., Flagstad, Ø., Milleret, C., Månsson, J., Svensson, L., Zimmermann, B., Åkesson, M., Sand, H. 2016. Estimating wolf (Canis lupus) population size from number of packs and an individual based model. Ecological Modelling 229:33-44.
Nichols, R.V., Åkesson, M., Kjellander, P. 2016. Diet assessment based on rumen contents: a comparison between DNA metabarcoding and macroscopy. PloS ONE 11(6): e0157977.
Liberg, O.; Aronson, A; Sand, H; Wabakken, P; Maartmann,; Svensson, L; Åkesson, M. 2012. Monitoring of wolves in Scandinavia. Hystrix – Italian journal of mammology 23(1): 29-34.
Åkesson, M., Hansson, B., Hasselquist, D. & Bensch, S. 2007. Linkage mapping of AFLP markers in a wild population of great reed warblers: importance of heterozygosity and number of genotyped individuals. Mol. Ecol. 16: 2189-2202.
Bensch, S., Andrén, H., Hansson, B., Pedersen, H. C., Sand, H., Sejberg, D., Wabakken, P., Åkesson, M. & Liberg, O. 2006. Selection for heterozygosity gives hope to a wild population of inbred wolves. PLoS ONE 1: e72.
Liberg, O., Andrén, H., Pedersen, H. C., Sand, H., Sejberg, D., Wabakken, P., Åkesson, M. and Bensch, S. 2005. Severe inbreeding depression in a wild wolf (Canis lupus) population. Biology Letters 1: 17-20.