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Title: Fine scale genetics reveals the subtle negative effects of roads on an endangered bat
Authors: Medinas, Denis
Ribeiro, Vera
Barbosa, Soraia
Valerio, Francesco
Marques, J. Tiago
Rebelo, Hugo
Paupério, Joana
Santos, Sara
Mira, António
Keywords: Rhinolophus hipposideros
Landscape connectivity
Genetic relatedness
Road barrier effect
Population structure
Issue Date: 15-Apr-2023
Publisher: Elsevier/ Science of The Total Environment
Abstract: The effective management of species with small and fragmented populations requires an in-depth understanding of how the effects of human-induced habitat disturbance shape the structure and gene flow at fine spatial scales. Identification of putative environmental barriers that affect individual exchange among subpopulations is imperative to prevent extinction risks. Here, we investigated how landscape affects the gene flow and relatedness structure of a population of the endangered lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros). We also assessed the effects of sexbiased dispersal on genetic relatedness. We genotyped 287 bat samples collected across southern Portugal and developed resistance surfaces for landscape variables hypothesized to affect gene flow. Then, we used spatially explicit models to fit relatedness distance through the resistance surfaces. We found genetic evidence of sex-biased dispersal and identified a significant fine scale structuring in the relatedness regarding females, the philopatric sex. Males displayed uniform levels of relatedness throughout the landscape. The results indicated less relatedness between the female´ from roosts located on proximity of roads than in roosts away from roads. Also, when analysing the sexes together the relatedness on roosts separated by highway were subtly less related in comparison to those occurring on the same side. Roads seem to be major shapers of the contemporary population structure of females, regardless of being relatively recent structures in the landscape. Furthermore, the relatedness patterns detected suggested that high tree density among roosts and continuity of forest patches in broader surrounding areas, promotes the relatedness among individuals. Landscape heterogeneity among roosts slightly decreases genetic relatedness. Nevertheless, those relationships are still weak, suggesting that population structuring driven by those factors is slowly ongoing. Thus, effective management measures should focus on issues for promoting safe road passages and suitable habitat corridors, allowing for the exchange of individuals and gene flow among lesser horseshoe bat roosts.
Type: article
Appears in Collections:BIO - Publicações - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais Com Arbitragem Científica

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