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Genetic differentiation of the Western Capercaillie highlights the importance of South-Eastern Europe for understanding the species phylogeography

Marko Bajc and Miran Čas and Dalibor Ballian and Saša Kunovac and Goran Zubić and Marijan Grubešić and Petar Zhelev and Ladislav Paule and Tine Grebenc and Hojka Kraigher (2011) Genetic differentiation of the Western Capercaillie highlights the importance of South-Eastern Europe for understanding the species phylogeography. PloS one . ISSN Y506-0087

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    The Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus L.) is a grouse species of open boreal or high altitude forests of Eurasia. It is endangered throughout most mountain range habitat areas in Europe. Two major genetically identifiable lineages of Western Capercaillie have been described to date: the southern lineage at the species’ southernmost range of distribution in Europe, and the boreal lineage. We address the question of genetic differentiation of capercaillie populations from the Rhodope and Rila Mountains in Bulgaria, across the Dinaric Mountains to the Slovenian Alps. The two lineages’ contact zone and resulting conservation strategies in this so-far understudied area of distribution have not been previously determined. The results of analysis of mitochondrial DNA control region sequences of 319 samples from the studied populations show that Alpine populations were composed exclusively of boreal lineage; Dinaric populations of both, but predominantly (96%) of boreal lineage; and Rhodope-Rila populations predominantly (.90%) of southern lineage individuals. The Bulgarian mountains were identified as the core area of the southern lineage, and the Dinaric Mountains as the western contact zone between both lineages in the Balkans. Bulgarian populations appeared genetically distinct from Alpine and Dinaric populations and exhibited characteristics of a long-term stationary population, suggesting that they should be considered as a glacial relict and probably a distinct subspecies. Although all of the studied populations suffered a decline in the past, the significantly lower level of genetic diversity when compared with the neighbouring Alpine and Bulgarian populations suggests that the isolated Dinaric capercaillie is particularly vulnerable to continuing population decline. The results are discussed in the context of conservation of the species in the Balkans, its principal threats and legal protection status. Potential conservation strategies should consider the existence of the two lineages and their vulnerable Dinaric contact zone and support the specificities of the populations.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: phylogeny, genetics, Tetrao urogallus L.
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=SEARCH&base=COBIB&select=ID= 3186342
    Divisions: Slovenian Forestry Institute > Department of Forest Physiology and Genetics
    Item ID: 488
    Date Deposited: 12 May 2014 14:38
    Last Modified: 02 Apr 2015 15:21
    URI: http://eprints.gozdis.si/id/eprint/488

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