Genetic structure of fragmented southern populations of African Cape buffalo (S.c. caffer) based on microsatellite analysis
|dc.contributor.author||Michel de Garine-Wichatitsky,|
|dc.coverage.spatial||Africa - Southern|
|dc.coverage.spatial||Africa - Eastern|
|dc.description||Along with the elephant and the wildbeest, the Cape buffalo is the most dominant species in terms of biomass but also the most widespread herbivore in the savannas and open woodlands of East-Southern Africa. African wildlife experienced a reduction in population size and geographical distribution over the last millennium, particularly since the 19th century as a result of human demographic expansion, overexploitation, habitat degradation and cattle-borne diseases. The last natural parcels are reduced to an ill-assorted mosaic of refuges,generally corresponding to the protected areas. These metapopulations face gene flow restriction and run the risk of genetic diversity erosion. Therefore, we assessed the genetic health of southern African Cape buffalo populations and investigated the origins of their current genetic structure. The analyses were based on 264 samples from 6 countries (14 autosomal and 3 Ychromosomal microsatellites). Three genetic clusters were differentiated, hereafter referred to as Northern (N), Central (C) and Southern (S) clusters. The results suggest that splitting of the N and C clusters occurred around 6000 to 8400 years ago. Both N and C clusters displayed high genetic diversity, low differentiation, and an absence of inbreeding depression signal. The splitting time of N and C clusters suggests that the current pattern results from human-induced factors and/or from the aridification process that occurred during the Holocene. The third cluster, a tiny population enclosed within an isolated protected area, likely originated from a more recent isolation and experienced genetic drift, probably resulting of processes such as habitat fragmentation and diseases. We also highlighted the impact of translocations on the genetic structure of several populations. Lower differentiation estimates were observed between C and N sampling localities that experienced translocation over the last century. This information is particularly essential within the context of translocation programs currently undertaken to restore genetic diversity in Austral Africa.|
|dc.title||Genetic structure of fragmented southern populations of African Cape buffalo (S.c. caffer) based on microsatellite analysis|
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