Developmental stability of the golden jackal (Canis aureus moreoticus) populations in its expansion range in Bulgaria
The European golden jackal (Canis aureus moreoticus) is widespread in Bulgaria and it was assumed that the species had occupied almost the entire country with less manifested presence in highlands. The general aim of this investigation was to carry out comparative analysis at a population level of developmental stability of the jackal inhabiting in different habitats (POP_1, inhabiting Sakar-Strandzha region, POP_2 inhabiting the Upper Thracian Plain and POP_3 inhabiting the western part of the Sub-Balkan valleys), located along the presumable route of the species movement northwards and westwards in the country. The population levels of developmental stability were assessed through fluctuating asymmetry determined as minor non-directional deviations from bilateral symmetry in 10 morphological non-metric skull characters. Looking at the fluctuating asymmetry as an indicator of environmental and genetic stress, there is no evidence of genetic depression by reproductive isolation in the studied populations. Moreover, there is no indication of relatively reduced developmental stability in any of the analyzed populations. In general, the results from the comparative population analysis of the craniological epigenetic fluctuating asymmetry in Bulgarian golden jackal with regard to the population developmental stability provided a substantial biological basis for their interpretation as bio monitor characteristics in a future biological monitoring of this species in the country.
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