Comparative population genetic structure of the endangered southern brown bandicoot, Isoodon obesulus, in fragmented landscapes of Southern Australia

Y Li, Steven Cooper, Melanie Lancaster, Jasmin Packer, Susan Mary Carthew

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    Abstract

    Genetic connectivity is a key factor for maintaining the persistence of populations in fragmented landscapes. In highly modified landscapes such us peri-urban areas, organisms’ dispersal among fragmented habitat patches can be reduced due to the surrounding matrix, leading to subsequent decreased gene flow and increased potential extinction risk in isolated sub-populations. However, few studies have compared within species how dispersal/gene flow varies between regions and among different forms of matrix that might be encountered. In the current study, we investigated gene flow and dispersal in an endangered marsupial, the southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus) in a heavily modified peri-urban landscape in South Australia, Australia. We used 14 microsatellite markers to genotype 254 individuals which were sampled from 15 sites. Analyses revealed significant genetic structure. Our analyses also indicated that dispersal was mostly limited to neighbouring sites. Comparisons of these results with analyses of a different population of the same species revealed that gene flow/dispersal was more limited in this peri-urban landscape than in a pine plantation landscape approximately 400 km to the south-east. These findings increase our understanding of how the nature of fragmentation can lead to profound differences in levels of genetic connectivity among populations of the same species.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0152850
    Pages (from-to)1-20
    Number of pages20
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume11
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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