Ancient DNA reveals genotypic relationships among Oregon populations of the sea otter (Enhydra lutris)

Kim Valentine, Deborah A. Duffield, Lorelei E. Patrick, David R. Hatch, Virginia L. Butler, Roberta L. Hall, Niles Lehman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The sea otter has experienced a dramatic population decline caused by intense human harvesting, followed by a century of recovery including relocation efforts to reestablish the species across its former range in the eastern Pacific. Although the otter was historically present along the coast in Oregon, there are currently no populations in this region and reintroduction efforts have failed. We examined the mtDNA genotypes of 16 pre-harvest otter samples from two Oregon locations in an attempt to determine the best genotypic match with extant populations. Our amplifications of a 222 base-pair portion of the control region from otters ranging in age from approximately 175-2000 years revealed four genotypes. The genotypic composition of pre-harvest otter populations appears to match best with those of contemporary populations from California and not from Alaska, where reintroduction stocks are typically derived.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-938
Number of pages6
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank Rebekah Hull and Klaus Koepfli for technical assistance, and the Oregon Sea Grant program and EcoTrust for funding. We also acknowledge the support of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the Coquille Indian Tribe.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Ancient DNA
  • Enhydra lutris
  • Historical distribution
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Sea otter


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