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Lowland panmixia versus highland disjunction: genetic and bioacoustic differentiation in two species of East African White-eye birds

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

East-African mountain forest species often occur in small and isolated populations, whereas species inhabiting the dry lowland savannahs exist in large and interconnected population networks. Taxa with closely related highland and lowland species, such as the East-African White-eye birds, allow testing for the potential effects of the two contrasting distribution patterns, mountain disjunction versus lowland panmixia. In this study, we compare the population genetic and bioacoustic differentiation of two representatives of the genus Zosterops: Zosterops poliogaster is exclusively found in forests at higher elevations; in comparison, Zosterops abyssinicus, only occurs in the dry and warm lowland savannahs. Both species were analysed across a similar geographical scale. Population genetic differentiation was inferred using the same set of 15 polymorphic microsatellite loci for both species. In addition, we quantitatively analyzed bioacoustic traits. Both data sets indicate a strong population differentiation among populations of the highland species, but an absence of differentiation in the lowland species. In addition, the lowland Z. abyssinicus was characterised by a twofold higher genetic diversity than detected for the highland Z. poliogaster. These two contrasting intraspecific population structures may reflect the opposite ecology and distribution of these species: the strong population isolation of Z. poliogaster resulting from long-term restriction to the cool and moist mountain forests at higher elevations has led to strong differentiation among local populations and resulted in a comparatively low level of intraspecific variability. In contrast, population panmixia in the lowland Z. abyssinicus provides a high level of gene flow allowing the maintenance of high genetic diversity and avoiding strong population structuring. These findings need to be considered when planning conservation actions.
Tijdschrift: Conservation Genetics
ISSN: 1566-0621
Issue: 3
Volume: 15
Pagina's: 655 - 664
Jaar van publicatie:2014
Trefwoorden:Genetica en ontwikkelingsbiologie, Ecologie en toegepaste ecologie