Evolutionary and conservation genetics of the rock partridge, Alectoris graeca

Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) Science Article 3

abstract

Rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) populations are declining throughout their range due to habitat changes and overhunting. Massive restocking with captive-reared hybrid birds may lead to risk of genetic pollution. We sequenced 450 nucleotides from the mitochondrial DNA control-region, and genotyped eight microsatellite loci with the aim of investigating phylogeography and population genetic structure in five geographic regions. Both mtDNA and microsatellites indicate that rock partridge populations are significantly differentiated (mtDNA ?ST = 0.86, microsatellite FST = 0.35, P < 0.001). The mtDNA haplotypes cluster in two phylogroups (bootstrap values =?93%), splitting partridges from Sicily from all the other sampled populations. Divergence times suggest that rock partridges have been isolated in Sicily for more than 200 000 years. This deep genetic subdivision is confirmed by multivariate analyses, Bayesian clustering and population assignment tests of microsatellite genotypes. Genetic data indicate differentiation between partridges in the Alps and populations in the Apennines, Albania and Greece, enabling delimitation of distinct conservation units. Rock partridges in Sicily (Alectoris graeca whitakeri) meet the criteria of an evolutionary significant unit, and should be managed accordingly

Ettore Randi, Acta Zoologica Sinica, 52(Supplement): 370-374, 2006

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