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A multiscale analysis of landscape resistance reveals genetic isolates in an endangered forest-specialist species the Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus).

Abstract : In forest-specialist mammals, forest loss may induce resistance to animal movement and reduce gene flow between populations, and thereby increase genetic erosion and extinction risks for populations. Understanding how landscape features affect gene flow is of critical importance for conservation. Using landscape genetic tools at multiple spatial scales, we assessed the effects of landscape heterogeneity (in particular the presence of wide open or rural habitats) on gene flow in an endangered forest-specialist species – the Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) –, in its major forest site in Morocco. We genotyped 248 individuals from 23 macaque groups using 11 microsatellite loci. We modelled different scenarios of isolation by landscape resistance. We further tested the relationships between genetic distance and isolation by resistance, after controlling for the effect of isolation by distance. Our results revealed a significant genetic structure and a disruption of gene flow even in geographic proximity. Whatever the spatial scale, remoteness from the forest edge beyond 1km acted as a barrier to macaque movements. In addition, at a fine scale, human-dominated areas were also detected as a barrier. The detection of private alleles in each population suggests an ongoing process of isolation. The preservation of the Barbary macaque implies 1) strictly avoiding all silvicultural practices (in particular clear-cutting of holm oak forests) that could contribute to increase distances between forest patches, 2) restoring corridors between forests, 3) and preserving key small forest patches as potential stepping stones facilitating macaque dispersal.
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Submitted on : Sunday, October 24, 2021 - 4:41:57 PM
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P. Le Gouar, Dominique Vallet, Aude Ernoult, Eric Petit, Yann Rantier, et al.. A multiscale analysis of landscape resistance reveals genetic isolates in an endangered forest-specialist species the Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus).. Biological Conservation, Elsevier, 2021, 623, pp.109337. ⟨10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109337⟩. ⟨hal-03400133⟩

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