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Open AccessArticle

Understanding Historical Demographic Processes to Inform Contemporary Conservation of an Arid Zone Specialist: The Yellow-Footed Rock-Wallaby

Division of Ecology and Evolution, Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Acton ACT 2601, Australia
Australian Museum Research Institute, Australian Museum, 1 William Street, Sydney 2010, New South Wales, Australia
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5 LR, UK
Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide 5001, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Genes 2020, 11(2), 154; (registering DOI)
Received: 22 November 2019 / Revised: 27 January 2020 / Accepted: 28 January 2020 / Published: 31 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marsupial Genetics and Genomics)
Little genetic research has been undertaken on mammals across the vast expanse of the arid biome in Australia, despite continuing species decline and need for conservation management. Here, we evaluate the contemporary and historical genetic connectivity of the yellow-footed rock-wallaby, Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus, a threatened macropodid which inhabits rocky outcrops across the disconnected mountain range systems of the southern arid biome. We use 17 microsatellite loci together with mitochondrial control region data to determine the genetic diversity of populations and the evolutionary processes shaping contemporary population dynamics on which to base conservation recommendations. Our results indicate the highly fragmented populations have reduced diversity and limited contemporary gene flow, with most populations having been through population bottlenecks. Despite limited contemporary gene flow, the phylogeographic relationships of the mitochondrial control region indicate a lack of structure and suggests greater historical connectivity. This is an emerging outcome for mammals across this arid region. On the basis of our results, we recommend augmentation of populations of P. x. xanthopus, mixing populations from disjunct mountain range systems to reduce the chance of continued diversity loss and inbreeding depression, and therefore maximize the potential for populations to adapt and survive into the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: marsupial; macropodid; conservation genetics; arid zone marsupial; macropodid; conservation genetics; arid zone
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Potter, S.; Neaves, L.E.; Lethbridge, M.; Eldridge, M.D.B. Understanding Historical Demographic Processes to Inform Contemporary Conservation of an Arid Zone Specialist: The Yellow-Footed Rock-Wallaby. Genes 2020, 11, 154.

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