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Using recent genetic history to inform conservation options of two Lesser Caymans iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) populations

Rogers, Thea F., Stenhouse, Ewan H. ORCID:, Wilson, Hannah, Pendaries, Morgan, Bruford, Michael W. ORCID:, Goetz, Matthias and Orozco-terWengel, Pablo ORCID: 2024. Using recent genetic history to inform conservation options of two Lesser Caymans iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) populations. Conservation Genetics 10.1007/s10592-023-01598-z

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The Sister Islands rock iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) is critically endangered and endemic to the Caribbean islands Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. The Cayman Brac population and indeed the entire species is under threat from habitat destruction, invasive species, and anthropogenic impacts on the island. We assessed the genetic diversity, estimated effective population sizes, and tested for differentiation of populations between these two islands to inform potential future translocation should this be needed for the Cayman Brac population. Two mitochondrial DNA markers (cytochrome b and NADH subunit 4) and seven DNA microsatellite markers were used to assess the genetic diversity, genetic structure, demographic history, and effective population size of the two iguana populations. Mitochondrial DNA showed no genetic differentiation between populations; however, we found little to moderate divergence with microsatellites. We compared multiple demographic scenarios and revealed that ongoing gene flow is likely. The demographic history implied a significant genetic bottleneck around 10,000 years ago, coinciding with the sea level rise at the close of the last glacial period, and the start of the Holocene. Estimates of current effective population sizes indicate a small-scale number of breeders on each island of similar magnitude to the census mature population size (between 100 and 800 individuals). The relatively low differentiation between populations supports the possible development of active genetic management plans to manage the declining populations of the Sister Islands rock iguana.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1566-0621
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 December 2023
Date of Acceptance: 12 December 2023
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2024 13:39

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