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Michaelides S.,University of Oxford | Cole N.,Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust | Cole N.,Mauritian Wildlife Foundation | Funk S.M.,Nature Heritage | Funk S.M.,Catholic University of Temuco
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2015

The island of Mauritius has experienced five reptile extinctions since the 1600s. Approximately half of the remaining herpetofauna has been restricted to offshore islets, resulting in small populations at high risk of extinction. Under the combined pressures of invasive species, habitat loss and fragmentation and climate change, translocations are considered a powerful tool in conservation of threatened and endangered species. The Bojer’s skink, Gongylomorphus bojerii, on the offshore island on Ilot Vacoas represents the remnant population of the species in the southeast of Mauritius. Given the geographic isolation and its genetic distinctiveness, individuals were translocated to the neighbouring island of Ile aux Fouquets in order to re-establish historical range, minimize extinction risk and maintain genetic variation within the species. Using fifteen microsatellite loci, we assessed the genetic structure of the population on Ilot Vacoas in relation to a northern offshore population (on Round Island) and evaluated the genetic consequences of the translocation. Results revealed that the population on Ilot Vacoas exhibits significantly lower levels of genetic variation and strong differentiation (FST = 0.16) compared to the northern population. The inbreeding coefficient was low and no recent bottleneck event was detected from its genetic signature. The translocation on Ile aux Fouquets did not provide evidence of negative genetic effects. The newly established population retained much of the source’s genetic material, though the effective population size was found to be relatively small. These findings confirmed the importance of incorporating genetic management and continuous monitoring to detect changes in the long-term survival of translocated populations. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Galov A.,University of Zagreb | Byrne K.,Ruthven Carolside | Gomercic T.,University of Zagreb | Duras M.,University of Zagreb | And 5 more authors.
Czech Journal of Animal Science | Year: 2013

The Posavina and Croatian Coldblood are Croatian autochthonous horse breeds with interwoven breeding histories for which studbooks have only recently been established. The Lipizzan breed has the oldest formalized breeding and no record of recent genetic introgression from other breeds in Croatia. We analyzed the genetic structure, interbreeding, and breed characteristics by genotyping nine dinucleotide microsatellite loci for 53 Posavina, 37 Croatian Coldblood, and 33 Lipizzan horses and showed that differing breeding schemes and histories have had a strong and measurable impact on the population genetic structure within and between the three breeds. A Bayesian clustering method demonstrated that two population clusters best explain the genetic structure. Samples from the pre-defined breeds of the Posavina and Croatian Coldblood were assigned to a separate genetic cluster, while Lipizzan specimens were assigned to another distinct genetic group. Twelve samples of the Posavina/Croatian Coldblood cluster (13%) showed admixed ancestry with Lipizzan horses. A test for heterozygosity excess, allele frequency distribution mode-shift, and M-ratio test were used to detect genetic evidence of recent population bottlenecks, none of which provided evidence for bottlenecks in the Posavina and Croatian Coldblood populations. In contrast, although somewhat ambiguous, evidence suggests a genetic bottleneck in the Lipizzan population in Croatia.

Goldenberg M.,University of Vienna | Goldenberg M.,Gobabeb Training and Research Center | Goldenberg F.,University of Vienna | Goldenberg F.,Gobabeb Training and Research Center | And 4 more authors.
Folia Zoologica | Year: 2010

Black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas, Schreber, 1775) survive in a wide range of environments. Their foraging strategies are highly variable in different habitats. Adaptations in foraging behaviour in relation to abundance and quality of food sources are expected to be highly pronounced in an extreme habitat like a desert. This study investigated the diet composition in black-backed jackals in the Namib Desert by analysing faecal samples collected between February 2004 andAugust 2005. Frequency of occurrence, relative dry mass and proportion of biomass consumed were calculated for different prey items. Insect parts, mainly of two species - The giant longhorn beetle (Acanthophorus capensis) and a locust (Anacridium moestum) - Were found in 72.2% of the samples and were estimated to have contributed 22% to the biomass consumed. Mammals, predominantly rodents and ungulates, represented the highest proportion of biomass consumed (42%), although theirremains were found in only one third of the samples. Based on biomass, mammals are assumed to be the jackal's preferred prey, but, probably due to lower abundance, more diffi cult to obtain than insects. More than 50% of the samples contained plant material, mainly seeds of !NARA plants (Acanthosycios horridus) and false ebony (Euclea pseudebenus), especially during their fruiting seasons. Although the abundance of A. capensis and of A. moestum varied annually, their remains were found in scats throughout the year, indicating a certain degree of specialization on these prey species.

Gottelli D.,UK Institute of Zoology | Sillero-Zubiri C.,University of Oxford | Marino J.,University of Oxford | Funk S.M.,Nature Heritage | Wang J.,UK Institute of Zoology
Animal Conservation | Year: 2013

Populations of endangered mammals are often small, fragmented and have low genetic variability that can reduce the ability to evolve in response to environmental changes. The endangered Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) is a habitat specialist restricted to six small, isolated pockets of Afroalpine habitat, with a total population of fewer than 500 adult animals. The degradation of the Ethiopian highlands because of human expansion is ever increasing, potentially leading to further population fragmentation and local extinctions. In order to assist Ethiopian wolf conservation management, we quantified the genetic diversity, population structure and patterns of gene flow of the species using up to 14 microsatellite loci. FST, analysis of molecular variance, principal coordinates analysis and Bayesian clustering analyses revealed geographic population structuring delimited by three mountain ranges, in concert with a previous study based on mitochondrial DNA. Bayesian analysis showed that current gene flow is low, unidirectional and limited to geographically proximate populations. Given the small census size and strong population structuring with low gene flow, demographic stochasticity is likely to be the highest threat to the long-term persistence of this species. The protection of the remaining suitable habitat, especially narrow ridges linking habitat patches within mountain blocks, is therefore essential. The genetic survey presented by this study provides vital and much needed information for the future effective management of Ethiopian wolf populations. © 2012 The Authors. Animal Conservation © 2012 The Zoological Society of London.

Funk S.M.,Catholic University of Temuco | Rusowsky D.,Nature Heritage
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2014

Recent analyses of Internet search behaviour conclude that the public’s interest in environmental issues is falling (McCallum and Bury, Biodiv Conserv 22:1355–1367, 2013). Ficetola (Biodiv Conserv 22:2983–2988, 2013) argued that the nature of the underpinning data processing may create an artificially declining trend, even when the absolute number of searches increases and public interest is growing. These findings are highly relevant for applied conservation strategies and the public media have quickly picked the message of the alarming fading interest worldwide, the possibility of devastating repercussions and calls for rapid responses in conservation communication. We challenge both analysis by evaluating Internet searches of English and non-English speaking users. The inclusion of information on the linguistic background reveals a much more differentiated picture, with some cultures displaying an increasing interest and others a decreasing interest. These analyses allow a better understanding of the importance of global—local viewpoints, cultural knowledge and cultural differences on the interpretation of underpinning human interest from Internet search patterns. Despite methodological problems limiting the utility of summary data provided by search engines, they can offer powerful information when applied spatially and temporally restricted and analysed alongside suitable benchmark indicators. We discuss that due consideration of methodological caveats is essential to inform the general public about the relevance for conservation without triggering sensationalist or over-generalizing conclusions. Conservation communication needs considering that Internet search engines do not necessarily mirror the interest of many people who are essential for the conservation of biodiversity. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

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