Conservation Genetics

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 401–412 | Cite as

Population genetics of chamois in the contact zone between the Alps and the Dinaric Mountains: uncovering the role of habitat fragmentation and past management

  • Elena V. Buzan
  • Josef Bryja
  • Barbora Zemanová
  • Boris Kryštufek
Research Article

Abstract

The chamois is a habitat specialist ungulate occupying “continental archipelagos” of fragmented rocky habitats which are frequently restricted to high altitudes. It is not clear whether forest habitats separating such population fragments act as barriers to gene flow. We studied the genetic makeup of the chamois in a topographically diverse landscape at the contact zone of two mountain ranges in Slovenia. Based on sequences of mitochondrial DNA, all Slovenian populations belong to a Northern chamois (Rupicapra r. rupicapra) subspecies. The range of chamois in Slovenia encompasses three different regions, each with unique topography, habitat connectivity and abundance of chamois: the Alps, the Dinaric Mts., and the Pohorje Mts. The habitat of the chamois is extensive and more or less continuous in the Alps, but suboptimal and fragmented in the remaining regions. In agreement with neutral genetic theory, large Northern chamois populations tended to have higher allelic richness and observed heterozygosity. Spatial clustering bears the differentiation into four geographically associated clusters within Slovenia and also revealed a strong substructure within all mountain ranges with suboptimal chamois habitat. Surprisingly, some small Dinaric populations have stayed genetically isolated in restricted habitat patches, even if they are geographically very close to each other. The four clusters, each having a unique demographic history, should be regarded as independent units for management purposes.

Keywords

Rupicapra rupicapra Microsatellites Population structure Fragmentation Conservation management 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the authorities from the Slovenian Hunting Organisation, Triglav National Park and Rearing Hunting Ground Kozorog, Kamnik for helping to interpret past chamois management. We are grateful to the Hunter Families Log Pod Mangartom, Idrija, Postojna, Ig, Rakitna, Osilnica, Puščava, and Pohorje for collecting the tissue samples. Our thanks also to the Department of Forestry, Biotechnical Faculty, at the University of Ljubljana for providing the map and Peter Glasnović for cartography. Part of the research was sponsored by bilateral project between Slovenia and the Czech Republic (project Contact No: MEB 091023). JB and BZ worked with institutional support RVO: 68081766. We thank Mrs. Karollyn Close for English editing and two anonymous referees for valuable suggestions.

Supplementary material

10592_2013_469_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (96 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 95 kb)
10592_2013_469_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (51 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 50 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena V. Buzan
    • 1
  • Josef Bryja
    • 2
    • 3
  • Barbora Zemanová
    • 2
    • 3
  • Boris Kryštufek
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Primorska, Science and Research Centre of KoperKoperSlovenia
  2. 2.Department of Population BiologyInstitute of Vertebrate Biology AS CRBrnoCzech Republic
  3. 3.Department of Botany and ZoologyFaculty of Science, Masaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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