Effect of landscape features on genetic structure of the goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) in Central Iran
The populations of goitered gazelle suffered significant decline due to natural and anthropogenic factors over the last century. Investigating the effects of barriers on gene flow among the remaining populations is vital for conservation planning. Here we adopted a landscape genetics approach to evaluate the genetic structure of the goitered gazelle in Central Iran and the effects of landscape features on gene flow using 15 polymorphic microsatellite loci. Spatial autocorrelation, isolation by distance (IBD) and isolation by resistance (IBR) models were used to elucidate the effects of landscape features on the genetic structure. Ecological modeling was used to construct landscape permeability and resistance map using 12 ecogeographical variables. Bayesian algorithms revealed three genetically homogeneous groups and restricted dispersal pattern in the six populations. The IBD and spatial autocorrelation revealed a pattern of decreasing relatedness with increasing distance. The distribution of potential habitats was strongly correlated with bioclimatic factors, vegetation type, and elevation. Resistance distances and graph theory were significantly related with variation in genetic structure, suggesting that gazelles are affected by landscape composition. The IBD showed greater impact on genetic structure than IBR. The Mantel and partial Mantel tests indicated low but non-significant effects of anthropogenic barriers on observed genetic structure. We concluded that a combination of geographic distance, landscape resistance, and anthropogenic factors are affecting the genetic structure and gene flow of populations. Future road construction might impede connectivity and gene exchange of populations. Conservation measures on this vulnerable species should consider some isolated population as separate management units.
KeywordsGene flow Graph theory Isolation by distance Landscape genetics Resistance distance Spatial autocorrelation
We are grateful to Isfahan, Yazd and Kerman provincial DOE for permission to enter to PAs. This research was financially supported by the Iranian National Science Foundation (Project Number 92026483), by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT: PTDC/BIA-BIC/2903/2012), and by FEDER funds through the Operational Programme for Competitiveness Factors - COMPETE (FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-028276). Individual support to TLS and JCB was given by FCT (SFRH/BD/73680/2010 and IF/459/2013).
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