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The total brown bear population in the country’s three national parks, in Pindos, Prespes and Rodopi, in 2020-2021 was found to consist of 485 individuals and there is significant genetic diversity in all three areas.

These are the main conclusions of the genetic analysis carried out by the Department of Veterinary Medicine (Laboratory of Microbiology and Parasitology) and the Department of Public and Unified Health (Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Genetics) of the University of Thessaly, the Kallisto Environmental Organization, the Northern Pindos National Park, the Prespa National Park and the Rhodope Mountains National Park.

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In particular, within the framework of the “Improving human-bear coexistence in 4 National Parks of South Europe” (ARCPROM) program, 10 brown bear-specific microsatellite markers were detected and studied with the aim of estimating the distribution of the population in the areas of Pindos, Prespa and of the Rhodopes. The aim was also to estimate the genetic diversity of the brown bear living in Greece and to investigate the possible genetic connection of the bears between the three regions.

The genetic analysis used brown bear hair samples collected during the years 2020-2021 by the hair trap method, according to the activity of the bears that had been observed during this period. A total of 472 samples were collected and analyzed: 96 from Prespa National Park, 170 from North Pindos National Park and 206 from Rhodope National Park.

According to the conclusions, the population of Pindos is genetically distinct, while the corresponding populations of Prespa and Rhodope show mutual overlap.

In addition, in the Rhodope and the Prespes there is a high degree of inbreeding, a fact that in the long run can lead to the reduction of the genetic diversity of the population.

In Pindos, the population seems more stable compared to the population of Rhodope and Prespa, which seem more vulnerable. Speaking to the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency, the assistant professor of the Department of Public and Unified Health, Maria Satra, and the professor of the Department of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Thessaly, Charalambos Billinis, emphasize that through the repetition of the action that takes place in 2023 and using the same methodology , safer conclusions will be drawn both for the genetic characteristics and for the conservation and management actions of the brown bear in Greece.