We have studied a small isolated population of black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) in the Netherlands to examine the impact of isolation and reduction in numbers on genetic diversity. We compared the genetic diversity in the last extant Dutch population with Dutch museum samples and three other black grouse populations (from England, Austria and Norway, respectively) representing isolated and continuous populations. We found significantly lower allelic richness, observed and expected heterozygosities in the present Dutch population compared to the continuous populations (Austria and Norway) and also to the historical Dutch population. However, using a bottleneck test on each population, signs of heterozygosity excess were only found in the likewise isolated English population despite that strong genetic drift was evident in the present Dutch population in comparison to the reference populations, as assessed both in pairwise F(ST)and STRUCTURE analyses. Simulating the effect of a population reduction on the Dutch population from 1948 onwards, using census data and with the Dutch museum samples as a model for the genetic diversity in the initial population, revealed that the loss in number of alleles and observed heterozygosity was according to genetic drift expectations and within the standard error range of the present Dutch population. Thus, the effect of the strong decline in the number of grouse on genetic diversity was only detectable when using a reference from the past. The lack of evidence for a population reduction in the present Dutch population by using the program bottleneck was attributed to a rapidly found new equilibrium as a consequence of a very small effective population size.

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