The mouflons of the Kerguelen archipelago

This release is also available in French.

Montreal, June 20, 2007 -- The team of Denis Rale, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Ecology and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UQAM, recently published some remarkable research findings. Reconstructing the genetic history of a population of mouflons descended from a single pair, the researchers demonstrated that the animals genetic diversity increased over time, contrary to what the usual models predict. These results contradict the belief that a population descended from a small number of individuals will exhibit numerous deficiencies and reduced genetic diversity. http://www.video.uqam.ca/kerguelenmouflons

The mouflon population of the Kerguelen archipelago

The Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean are one of four districts in the French Austral and Antarctic Territories. These islands, one of the most isolated places on Earth, house a military base and a science station. In 1957, the local authorities decided to offer residents the opportunity to hunt mouflons (a type of wild sheep). A pair of Corsican mouflons was imported from the Vincennes Zoo in Paris. Initially, the mouflon population grew exponentially, and then, from the early 1980s, it fluctuated between 300 and 700 individuals.

The history of a fascinating research project

Denis Rale discovered this mouflon population while doing his French civilian service in 1991. For 16 months, he participated in an ecological research program under the supervision of Jean-Louis Chapuis of the Musum national d'histoire naturelle in Paris. He studied the ecology and behaviour of mammals (mouflons, sheep and reindeer) introduced into the Islands.

Ten years later, Renaud Kaeuffer, a doctoral student in biology at UQAM, supervised

Contact: Claire Bouchard
Universit du Qubec Montral

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