Genetic diversity and population genetic structure of Python bivittatus in China
The Burmese python (Python bivittatus) has recently suffered large population declines in the wild in China due to illegal capture, overexploitation, deforestation and the loss of its natural habitat. Greater knowledge of the genetic diversity and structure of wild P. bivittatus populations is needed to help ensure its effective management. In this study, we investigated the genetic diversity and population genetic structure of wild P. bivittatus in China in detail. 109 P. bivittatus individuals from five distribution areas in Guangdong (GD), Guangxi (GX), Hainan (HN), Fujian (FJ) and Yunnan (YN) province of China were collected, and their genetic structure and diversity were analyzed. Eight highly polymorphic microsatellite loci were utilized to reveal high levels of genetic diversity in the P. bivittatus population. Genetic diversity was highest in GX, and lowest in GD. All geographic populations demonstrated a bottleneck effect indicating recent population decline. Fst and AMOVA analyses revealed that there was moderate genetic differentiation among the five populations, and that only 10.59 % of total genetic diversity occurred among populations. Fst values between populations were positively correlated with their geographical distances. Genetic structure analyses revealed that the HN, GX and GD populations, which were geographically closest, were assigned to a genetic cluster, while the YN and FJ populations constituted a single cluster, respectively.