Linda Laikre

Linda Laikre


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Works at Department of Zoology
Telephone 08-16 42 83
Visiting address Svante Arrhenius väg 18b
Room D453
Postal address Zoologiska institutionen: Populationsgenetik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am a population geneticist with a research interest in understanding microevolutionary processes that govern rates of loss of genetic diversity, how such processes are affected by human induced activities, and what can be done to assure long term survival and adaptive potential of populations through retention of genetic biodiversity. I use a variety of species to address conservation genetic issues including brown trout (Salmo trutta), wolf (Canis lupus), salmon (Salmo salar), pike (Esox lucius), moose (Alces alces), herring (Clupea harengus), dog (Canis familiaris) and Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). Research approaches include empirical data analyses, theoretical modelling, computer simulations, and multidisciplinary efforts.

I am Director of Studies in Population Genetics. I teach a variety of courses from introductory to advanced level.

I take a strong interest in communicating research results and scientific knowledge to the society in general as well as to separte stakeholder groups.

Research in the group has addressed a broad range of population and conservation genetics over several decades. Focus of current research projects include:

  • Conservation genetic monitoring
  • Effective population size of metapopulations
  • Bridging the conservation genetics gap


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2016. Linda Laikre (et al.). Heredity 117 (4), 279-289

    The Scandinavian wolf population descends from only five individuals, is isolated, highly inbred and exhibits inbreeding depression. To meet international conservation goals, suggestions include managing subdivided wolf populations over Fennoscandia as a metapopulation; a genetically effective population size of N-e >= 500, in line with the widely accepted long-term genetic viability target, might be attainable with gene flow among subpopulations of Scandinavia, Finland and Russian parts of Fennoscandia. Analytical means for modeling N-e of subdivided populations under such non-idealized situations have been missing, but we recently developed new mathematical methods for exploring inbreeding dynamics and effective population size of complex metapopulations. We apply this theory to the Fennoscandian wolves using empirical estimates of demographic parameters. We suggest that the long-term conservation genetic target for metapopulations should imply that inbreeding rates in the total system and in the separate subpopulations should not exceed Delta f = 0.001. This implies a meta-Ne of N-eMeta >= 500 and a realized effective size of each subpopulation of N-eRx >= 500. With current local effective population sizes and one migrant per generation, as recommended by management guidelines, the meta-Ne that can be reached is similar to 250. Unidirectional gene flow from Finland to Scandinavia reduces meta-N-e to similar to 130. Our results indicate that both local subpopulation effective sizes and migration among subpopulations must increase substantially from current levels to meet the conservation target. Alternatively, immigration from a large (N-e >= 500) population in northwestern Russia could support the Fennoscandian metapopulation, but immigration must be substantial (5-10 effective immigrants per generation) and migration among Fennoscandian subpopulations must nevertheless increase.

  • 2017. Lovisa Wennerström (et al.). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 74 (4), 562-571

    Understanding spatiotemporal population genetic patterns is important for conservation management of ecologically and socioeconomically important species. This is particularly so in species-poor environments such as the brackish Baltic Sea. We examined over 600 northern pike (Esox lucius), a coastal predator and treasured sport fish, collected over major parts of the Baltic Sea coastline. We found low genetic divergence among populations, indicating a contrasting genetic structure of brackish water coastal spawners compared with previous reports on anadromous Baltic pike migrating up freshwater streams for spawning. A pattern of genetic isolation by distance either over shortest waterway or primarily along the mainland coast with islands as stepping stones suggested that gene flow is primarily taking place among neighboring populations, possibly with some migration over open water. Temporal data showed a stable genetic structure over a decade. Within a single sampling year, however, spatial divergence was larger during spawning than feeding season, indicating increased mixing of populations during the feeding season. Management should assure connectivity among brackish spawning grounds and large population sizes at identified core areas.

  • 2016. Alvaro Martinez Barrio (et al.). eLIFE 5

    Ecological adaptation is of major relevance to speciation and sustainable population management, but the underlying genetic factors are typically hard to study in natural populations due to genetic differentiation caused by natural selection being confounded with genetic drift in subdivided populations. Here, we use whole genome population sequencing of Atlantic and Baltic herring to reveal the underlying genetic architecture at an unprecedented detailed resolution for both adaptation to a new niche environment and timing of reproduction. We identify almost 500 independent loci associated with a recent niche expansion from marine (Atlantic Ocean) to brackish waters (Baltic Sea), and more than 100 independent loci showing genetic differentiation between spring- and autumn-spawning populations irrespective of geographic origin. Our results show that both coding and non-coding changes contribute to adaptation. Haplotype blocks, often spanning multiple genes and maintained by selection, are associated with genetic differentiation.

Show all publications by Linda Laikre at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 22, 2017

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