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Conservation Genetics

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 499–507 | Cite as

Genetic signature of a severe forest fire on the endangered Gran Canaria blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea polatzeki)

  • N. M. Suárez
  • E. Betancor
  • R. Fregel
  • F. Rodríguez
  • J. Pestano
Research Article

Abstract

Habitat destruction has been identified as one of the main threats to biodiversity. Among all factors causing habitat disturbance, wildfire is recognized as one of the most important ecological forces that influences not only the physical environment, but also the structure and composition of floral and faunal communities. These processes are often translated in population bottlenecks, which occur frequently in threatened species and result in loss of genetic diversity and evolutionary potential. In this study, we analyzed the genetic consequences of a demographic bottleneck produced by a forest fire that reduced the population of the endangered blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea polatzeki), which inhabits the island of Gran Canaria, to approximately 122 individuals. Analysis of nine microsatellite loci revealed that, while a decline in census was observed during the bottleneck, there was no observed excess of heterozygosity or evidence of a decline in allelic richness, two characteristic bottleneck signatures. On the contrary, we observed that the Gran Canaria blue chaffinch has retained significant levels of genetic diversity and shows no evidence of an increased level of inbreeding (FIS) either before or after the bottleneck. The results from this study have important implications for the conservation of this endangered subspecies and provide insights concerning management strategies to prevent its extinction.

Keywords

Blue chaffinch Bottleneck Endangered Fringilla teydea Gran Canaria Microsatellite Wildfire 

Notes

Acknowledgement

We are grateful to Monik Almeida, Yessi Lara, Almudena Ramos and Javi Rivero for laboratory assistance. The European Commission project LIFE98NAT/E/5354 and the Canary Islands Government Vice-council of the Environment co-financed part of this study. We also express our thanks to Ángel Moreno for help with sample collection and the design of Fig. 1, Tony Sánchez for giving us permission to use his F. t. polatzeki picture and Susan Cranfield for language correction. Vicente Cabrera and two anonymous reviewers provided useful criticisms of an earlier version of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. M. Suárez
    • 1
  • E. Betancor
    • 1
  • R. Fregel
    • 1
  • F. Rodríguez
    • 2
  • J. Pestano
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Genética, Facultad de MedicinaUniversidad de Las Palmas de Gran CanariaLas Palmas de Gran CanariaSpain
  2. 2.Biodiversity ServiceGobierno de CanariasLas Palmas de Gran CanariaSpain

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