Gene flow and immigration: genetic diversity and population structure of lions (Panthera leo) in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
- 713 Downloads
The genetic diversity and population structure of a population of African lions in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, was studied using 17 microsatellite loci. Spatial genetic analysis using Bayesian methods suggested a weak genetic structure within the population and high levels of gene flow across the study area. We were able to identify a few individuals with aberrant or admixed ancestry, which we interpreted as either immigrants or as descendants thereof. This, together with relatively high genetic diversity, suggests that immigrants from beyond the study area have influenced the genetic structure within the park. We suggest that the levels of genetic diversity and the observed weak structure are indicative of the large and viable Okavango-Hwange population of which our study population is a part. Genetic patterns can also be attributed to still existing high levels of habitat connectivity between protected areas. Given expected increases in human populations and anthropogenic impacts, efforts to identify and maintain existing movement corridors between regional lion populations will be important in retaining the high genetic diversity status of this population. Our results show that understanding existing levels of genetic diversity and genetic connectivity has implications, not only for this lion population, but also for managing large wild populations of carnivores.
KeywordsPopulation genetic Lion (Panthera leo) Immigration Gene flow
Approval for the study was obtained from the Zimbabwe Parks and Management Wildlife Authority; the Wildlife drugs Subcommittee of the Drugs Control Council of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Veterinary Association, Wildlife Group. The samples were sent to Uppsala University under a permit to import research material from Jordbruksverket (Sweden) and an export permit from National Parks in Zimbabwe. Field research was supported by the Eppley Foundation, Darwin Initiative for Biodiversity, Panthera Foundation, Rufford Maurice-Laing Foundation, Frankenberg Foundation, Mitsubishi Fund for Europe and Africa, the SATIB Trust and Robertson Foundation. DWM thanks the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation for support. We thank Mats Höggren at the Kolmården Zoo for providing us with samples from this zoo population and Maria Quintela for her valuable comments on our manuscript.
- Belkhir K, Borsa P, Chikhi L, et al. Laboratoire Génome, Populations, Interactions, CNRS UMR 5000. Université de Montpellier II; Montpellier: 2004. GENETIX 4.05, logiciel sous Windows pour la génétique des populations. (http://www.univmontp2.fr/~genetix/genetix.htm)
- IUCN-SSC. (2006). Conservation strategy for the lion Panthera leo in eastern and southern Africa (pp. 55). www.felidae.org: IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group
- Loveridge AJ, Wang SW, Frank LG, Seidensticker J (2010a) People and wild felids: conservation of cats and management of conflicts. In: Macdonald DW, Loveridge AJ (eds) Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids: 161. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Loveridge AJ, Hemson G, Davidson Z, Macdonald DW (2010b) African lions on the edge: Reserve boundaries as ‘attractive sinks’. In: Macdonald DW, Loveridge AJ (eds) Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids: 283. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Macdonald DW, Loveridge AJ, Rabinowitz A (2010) Felid futures: crossing disciplines, borders, and generations. In: Macdonald DW, Loveridge AJ (eds) Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids: 599. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Packer C, Pusey AE (1993) Dispersal, kinship and inbreeding in African lions. In: Thornhill NW (ed) The natural history of inbreeding and outbreeding: theoretical and empirical perspectives. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 375–391Google Scholar
- Perrin N, Goudet J (2001) Inbreeding, kinship and the evolution of natal dispersal. In: Clobert J, Danchin E, Dhondt AA, Nichols JD (eds) Dispersal. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p 452Google Scholar
- Pritchard JK, Wen W (2003) Documentation for STRUCTURE software: Version 2. Available from http://www.pritch.bsd.uchicago.edu
- Raymond M. & Rousset F, 1995. GENEPOP (version 1.2): Population genetics software for exact tests and ecumenicism. J Heredity, 86:248–249. (http://genepop.curtin.edu.au/)
- Rogers CML (1993) A woody vegetation survey of Hwange National Park. Dept of National Parks and Wildlife Management, ZimbabweGoogle Scholar