Diversity and structure of fragmented populations of a threatened endemic cyprinodontid (Aphanius sophiae) inferred from genetics and otolith morphology: Implications for conservation and management
The assessment of population structure and genetic diversity is crucial for the management and conservation of threatened species. Natural and artificial barriers to dispersal (i.e., gene flow) increase populations’ differentiation and isolation by reducing genetic exchange and diversity. Freshwater ecosystems are highly fragmented because of human activities. Threatened species with small population sizes are more sensitive to habitat fragmentation effects. Here, we investigate the genetic population structure and gene flow among seven populations of Aphanius sophiae in the Kor Basin by using sequences of the complete Cyt b gene and otolith morphometry. The Cyt b gene showed low level of genetic variation, only 4.12% of the identified sites were variable, and 2.42% were parsimony informative. Overall, haplotype diversity was low to moderate and nucleotide diversity was low to extremely low. Fish populations exhibited high levels of genetic differentiation, suggesting limited gene flow among them. These differences were obtained not only among geographically distant populations, but also among neighboring localities. Genetic population structure was supported by the AMOVA analysis and by the haplotype network (only one of 21 haplotypes were shared by two localities). Otolith morphometric analysis was in agreement with genetic results, the two most distant and isolated populations were clearly separated, and genetically close populations showed less differences in morphometry. A significant pattern of isolation by distance was also detected among A. sophiae populations, with genetic distance more correlated with hydrological distance than with geographic distance. Results suggested that limited gene flow due to habitat fragmentation is an important factor contributing to genetic structuring and to the loss of genetic variation of A. sophiae populations. Aphanius sophiae population structure seems to be the result of habitat fragmentation and water pollution, but other factors such as introduced species should be considered. Given the high degree of genetic structuring, the definition of conservation groups is of particular importance for A. sophiae, which should be considered endangered according to the IUCN criteria. Conservation plans must recognize the genetic independence of populations and manage separately preventing the loss of locally adapted genotypes.
574 - Ecologia general i biodiversitat
Is part of
Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research
Alcaraz, Carles, and Zeinab Gholami. 2019. "Diversity And Structure Of Fragmented Populations Of A Threatened Endemic Cyprinodontid ( Aphanius Sophiae ) Inferred From Genetics And Otolith Morphology: Implications For Conservation And Management". Journal Of Zoological Systematics And Evolutionary Research 58 (1): 341-355. Wiley. doi:10.1111/jzs.12333.
Aigües Marines i Continentals
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- ARTICLES CIENTÍFICS 
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