Differentiation at mitochondrial and nuclear loci between the blesbok (Damaliscus pygargusphillipsi) and bontebok (D. p.pygargus): implications for conservation strategy
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- van der Walt, J., Nel, L.H. & Rus Hoelzel, A. Conserv Genet (2013) 14: 243. doi:10.1007/s10592-012-0435-x
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Damaliscus pygargus is an endemic species in South Africa belonging to the contemporary antelope tribe Alcelaphine. The species has been subdivided into two subspecies based upon phenotypic differences and historical geographic isolation. We found D. p. pygargus (bontebok) and D. p. phillipsi (blesbok) to be significantly differentiated based on microsatellite and mtDNA control region markers. Bontebok genetic diversity was depauperate with just one mtDNA haplotype, not found in blesbok populations, and reduced heterozygosity and polymorphism at microsatellite DNA loci compared to the blesbok. Erosion of molecular genetic variation in bontebok may have been due to anthropogenic impact causing isolation and reduced population size. Our data based on 34 bontebok and 42 blesbok indicate that the classification of alpha taxonomy should be reconsidered in this genus (in support of earlier similar suggestions), and that careful management should seek to avoid hybridization and retain the remaining diversity in the bontebok.