Genetic structure of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in south-eastern Africa
- 741 Downloads
Despite an on-going struggle to conserve the endangered black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) since the 1980s, huge capital investment and several genetic surveys, the level of genetic structure and connectivity among populations in southern Africa is not well understood. Here, we undertake a major population genetic study of black rhinoceros in the Zimbabwe Lowveld, an area inhabited by over half of that country’s original Zambezi descendants plus one large population sourced from the relict KwaZulu stock of South Africa. Using nuclear microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA data, we found much higher levels of genetic diversity in the indigenous Zimbabwean populations, where observed multilocus heterozygosity was 0.54 versus 0.40 in KwaZulu, and maternal haplotype diversity was 0.77 versus 0.03. We show, for the first time, that both gene pools can be differentiated from each other on the basis of nuclear markers. This, along with the discovery of recent gene flow between all Lowveld populations, suggests that Zimbabwean and South African gene pools were prehistorically connected.
KeywordsDiceros bicornis Black rhino Structure Connectivity Conservation
We thank the International Rhino Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service for financial support. We thank Steve Smith for comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.
Conflict of interest
The authors of this article have no financial or non-financial competing interests.
This work was supported by the International Rhino Foundation and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Belkhir K, Borsa P, Chikhi L, Raufaste N, Bonhomme F (2004). GENETIX 4.02, logiciel sous Windows TM pour la génétique des populations, Laboratoire Génome, Populations, Interactions; CNRS UMR 5000; Université Montpellier II, MontpellierGoogle Scholar
- Child GFT, Riney T (1987) Tsetse control hunting. I. Zimbabwe, 1919–1958. Zambezia 14:11–71Google Scholar
- Cumming D, Du Toit R, Stuart SN (1990) African elephants and rhinos: Status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN, GlandGoogle Scholar
- Drummond WH (1876) On the African rhinoceroses. Proc Zool Soc Lond 1876:109–114Google Scholar
- Emslie R (2013) African Rhinoceroses–Latest trends in rhino numbers and poaching. An update to Doc 54-2-Annexe 2 from the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s (IUCN/SSC)Google Scholar
- Emslie R, Brooks M (1999) African Rhino: Status survey and action plan. IUCN/SSC African rhino specialist group, GlandGoogle Scholar
- Fraser AD (1958) On the present status of ungulates in Southern Rhodesia. Mammalia 22:469–475Google Scholar
- Groves CP (1967) Geographic variation in the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis Linnaeus, 1758). Zeitschrift fur Säugetierkunde 32:267–276Google Scholar
- Groves CP, Grubb P (2011) Ungulate Taxonomy. Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
- Harley EH (2002) AGARST, version 2.8, a program for calculating allele frequencies, GST and RST from microsatellite data. Wildlife Genetics Unit, University of Cape Town, Cape TownGoogle Scholar
- Leader-Williams N (1992) The world trade in Rhinoceros horn: a review. TRAFFIC International, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Leader-Williams N (2002) Regulation and protection: successes and failures in rhinoceros conservation. In: Oldfield S (ed) The Trade in Wildlife: Regulation for Conservation. Earthscan, London, pp 89–99Google Scholar
- Milliken TKN, Thomsen JB (1993) The decline of the black rhino in Zimbabwe: implications for future rhino conservation. TRAFFIC International, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Milliken, T, Emslie RH, Talukdar B (2009) African and Asian Rhinoceroses –Status, Conservation and Trade. In a report from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC), GlandGoogle Scholar
- Moro D, Campbell NJH, Elphinstone MS, Baverstock PR (1998) The Thevenard Island mouse: historic and conservation implications from mitochondrial DNA sequence-variation. Pac Conserv Biol 4:282–288Google Scholar
- Nielsen L, Meehan-Meola D, Kilbourn A, Alcivar-Warren A (2008) Characterization of microsatellite loci in the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum): their use for cross-species amplification and differentiation between the two species. Conserv Genet 9:239–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Raymond M, Rousset F (1995) GENEPOP (version 1.2): population genetics software for exact tests and ecumenicism. J Hered 86:248–249Google Scholar
- Scott CA (2008) Microsatellite variability in four contemporary rhinoceros species: implications for conservation. Queen’s University Kingston, KingstonGoogle Scholar