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Evidence of connectivity between continental and differentiated insular populations in a highly mobile species

AuthorsAgudo, Rosa ; Rico, Ciro ; Hiraldo, F. ; Donázar, José A.
Issue Date2011
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
CitationDiversity and Distributions 17: 1- 12 (2011)
AbstractAim Genetically differentiated insular populations are candidates for independent units for conservation. However, occasional immigration to reduced island populations may occur and potentially have important consequences in their future viability and evolutionary potential. In this study, we investigate the conservation implications of population structure and connectivity of insular and continental populations of a migratory raptor as determined using genetic tools and satellite tracking.Location Western European populations in the Iberian Peninsula and two insular populations in the Mediterranean Sea (Balearic Islands) and Atlantic Ocean (Canary Islands).Methods We genotyped 22 microsatellite loci in 96 Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus) from the Iberian Peninsula, 36 from Menorca (Balearic archipelago) and 242 (85% of the current population) from Fuerteventura (Canary Islands). We analysed genetic variation to estimate structure, gene flow, genetic diversity, effective size and recent demographic history of the populations. Additionally, 19 vultures were marked with satellite transmitters to track their migration routes.Results Insular populations were genetically differentiated from those of the mainland. We detected immigration in the insular populations and within the continental counterpart. We found similar levels of genetic variability between the continent and the islands, and a bottleneck analysis indicated recent sharp population declines in both archipelagos but not on the continent.Main conclusions Our study provides evidence that, in spite of significant differentiation, insular populations of highly mobile species may remain connected with the mainland. Conservation programmes should take into account population connectivity and integrate differentiated units of management within complex units of conservation that can best maintain processes and potential for evolutionary change. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2010.00724.x
issn: 1366-9516
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