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Genetic structure and gene flow among Komodo dragon populations inferred by microsatellite loci analysis

Ciofi, Claudio and Bruford, Michael William 1999. Genetic structure and gene flow among Komodo dragon populations inferred by microsatellite loci analysis. Molecular Ecology 8 (s1) , S17-S30. 10.1046/j.1365-294X.1999.00734.x

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A general concern for the conservation of endangered species is the maintenance of genetic variation within populations, particularly when they become isolated and reduced in size. Estimates of gene flow and effective population size are therefore important for any conservation initiative directed to the long-term persistence of a species in its natural habitat. In the present study, 10 microsatellite loci were used to assess the level of genetic variability among populations of the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis. Effective population size was calculated and gene flow estimates were compared with palaeogeographic data in order to assess the degree of vulnerability of four island populations. Rinca and Flores, currently separated by an isthmus of about 200 m, retained a high level of genetic diversity and showed a high degree of genetic similarity, with gene flow values close to one migrant per generation. The island of Komodo showed by far the highest levels of genetic divergence, and its allelic distinctiveness was considered of great importance in the maintenance of genetic variability within the species. A lack of distinct alleles and low levels of gene flow and genetic variability were found for the small population of Gili Motang island, which was identified as vulnerable to stochastic threats. Our results are potentially important for both the short- and long-term management of the Komodo dragon, and are critical in view of future re-introduction or augmentation in areas where the species is now extinct or depleted.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Uncontrolled Keywords: effective population size; gene flow; Komodo monitor; microsatellite loci; population structure; reptiles
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0962-1083
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:50

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