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Genetic structure and signature of population decrease in the critically endangered freshwater cyprinid Chondrostoma lusitanicum

Abstract

The endemic and critically endangered cyprinid Chondrostoma lusitanicum has a very restricted distribution range. In order to estimate genetic diversity, characterize population structure and infer the demographic history, we examined six microsatellite loci and cytochrome b (mtDNA) sequences from samples taken throughout C. lusitanicum’s geographical range. Estimates of genetic diversity were low in all samples (average He < 0.35). The microsatellite data pointed to a major difference between northern (Samarra and Tejo drainages) and southern (Sado and Sines drainages) samples. This separation was not so clear with mtDNA, since one sample from the Tejo drainage grouped with the southern samples. This could be related with ancestral polymorphism or with admixture events between northern and southern sites during the late Pleistocene. Nevertheless, both markers indicate high levels of population differentiation in the north (for microsatellites F ST >  0.23; and for mtDNA ΦST > 0.74) and lower levels in the south (F ST < 0.05; ΦST < 0.40). With microsatellites we detected strong signals of a recent population decrease in effective size, by more than one order of magnitude, starting in the last centuries. This is consistent with field observations reporting a severe anthropogenic-driven population decline in the last decades. On the contrary mtDNA suggested a much older expansion. Overall, these results suggest that the distribution of genetic diversity in C. lusitanicum is the result of both ancient events related with drainage system formation, and recent human activities. The potential effect of population substructure generating genetic patterns similar to a population decrease is discussed, as well as the implications of these results for the conservation of C. lusitanicum.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank to “FfishGUL” members for help in field work, M. Beaumont for helpful discussions concerning the demographic analyses and interpretations thereof, P. Fernandes for making available Bioinformatics resources at the IGC and for his help in their use, and Irene Pala for lab assistance. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for all the helpful comments provided. This work was supported by SFRH/BD/22224/2005 granted to Vítor Sousa, and by the INAG/FCUL protocol ‘Estudos genéticos da ictiofauna—medidas de monitorização e de compensação da construção da barragem de Odelouca’. Part of this work was carried out and written during visits between Toulouse and Lisbon that were funded by the ‘Actions Luso-Françaises’/‘Acções Integradas Luso-Francesas’ F-10/06. B. Crouau-Roy, I. Keller and F. Fonkenell are also thanked for making these visits possible.

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Correspondence to Maria M. Coelho.

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Sousa, V., Penha, F., Collares-Pereira, M.J. et al. Genetic structure and signature of population decrease in the critically endangered freshwater cyprinid Chondrostoma lusitanicum . Conserv Genet 9, 791–805 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-007-9399-7

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Keywords

  • Endangered endemic Cyprinidae
  • Chondrostoma lusitanicum
  • Demographic history
  • Population structure
  • Microsatellites
  • Mitochondrial DNA