Next Article in Journal
SWEET Transporters for the Nourishment of Embryonic Tissues during Maize Germination
Previous Article in Journal
DNA Methylation Markers for Pan-Cancer Prediction by Deep Learning
Open AccessArticle

Conservation Genetic Assessment of Savannah Elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Greater Kruger Biosphere, South Africa

1
Bull Elephant Network Project, Conservation Science Group, David Attenborough Building, Pembroke St, Cambridge CB2 3QY, UK
2
NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S10 2TN, UK
3
cE3c - Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Lisbon 1749-016, Portugal
4
Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystem Research Unit, University of South Africa, Florida Campus, Private Bag X6, Florida 1710, Johannesburg, South Africa
5
Elephants Alive, P.O. Box 960. Hoedspruit 1380, South Africa
6
Centre for African Ecology, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, 1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa
7
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Wallotstraße 19, Berlin 14193, Germany
8
School of Biological Sciences and Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Genes 2019, 10(10), 779; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10100779
Received: 3 August 2019 / Revised: 12 September 2019 / Accepted: 29 September 2019 / Published: 5 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Population and Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics)
Savannah elephant populations have been severely reduced and fragmented throughout its remaining range. In general, however, there is limited information regarding their genetic status, which is essential knowledge for conservation. We investigated patterns of genetic variation in savannah elephants from the Greater Kruger Biosphere, with a focus on those in previously unstudied nature reserves adjacent to Kruger National Park, using dung samples from 294 individuals and 18 microsatellites. The results of genetic structure analyses using several different methods of ordination and Bayesian clustering strongly suggest that elephants throughout the Greater Kruger National Park (GKNP) constitute a single population. No evidence of a recent genetic bottleneck was detected using three moment-based approaches and two coalescent likelihood methods. The apparent absence of a recent genetic bottleneck associated with the known early 1900s demographic bottleneck may result from a combination of rapid post-bottleneck population growth, immigration and long generation time. Point estimates of contemporary effective population size (Ne) for the GKNP were ~ 500–700, that is, at the low end of the range of Ne values that have been proposed for maintaining evolutionary potential and the current ratio of Ne to census population size (Nc) may be quite low (<0.1). This study illustrates the difficulties in assessing the impacts on Ne in populations that have suffered demographic crashes but have recovered rapidly and received gene flow, particularly in species with long generation times in which genetic time lags are longer. This work provides a starting point and baseline information for genetic monitoring of the GKNP elephants.
Keywords: Loxodonta africana; Greater Kruger National Park (GKNP); conservation genetics; genetic structure; effective population size; demographic history Loxodonta africana; Greater Kruger National Park (GKNP); conservation genetics; genetic structure; effective population size; demographic history
MDPI and ACS Style

Santos, T.L.; Fernandes, C.; Henley, M.D.; Dawson, D.A.; Mumby, H.S. Conservation Genetic Assessment of Savannah Elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Greater Kruger Biosphere, South Africa. Genes 2019, 10, 779.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop