The role of landscape and history on the genetic structure of peripheral populations of the Near Eastern fire salamander, Salamandra infraimmaculata, in Northern Israel

Iftah Sinai*, Ori Segev, Gilad Weil, Talya Oron, Juha Merilä, Alan R. Templeton, Leon Blaustein, Gili Greenbaum, Lior Blank

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Genetic studies on core versus peripheral populations have yielded many patterns. This diversity in genetic patterns may reflect diversity in the meaning of “peripheral populations” as defined by geography, gene flow patterns, historical effects, and ecological conditions. Populations at the lower latitude periphery of a species’ range are of particular concern because they may be at increased risk for extinction due to global climate change. In this work we aim to understand the impact of landscape and ecological factors on different geographical types of peripheral populations with respect to levels of genetic diversity and patterns of local population differentiation. We examined three geographical types of peripheral populations of the endangered salamander, Salamandra infraimmaculata, in Northern Israel, in the southernmost periphery of the genus Salamandra, by analyzing the variability in 15 microsatellite loci from 32 sites. Our results showed that: (1) genetic diversity decreases towards the geographical periphery of the species’ range; (2) genetic diversity in geographically disjunct peripheral areas is low compared to the core or peripheral populations that are contiguous to the core and most likely affected by a founder effect; (3) ecologically marginal conditions enhance population subdivision. The patterns we found lead to the conclusion that genetic diversity is influenced by a combination of geographical, historical, and ecological factors. These complex patterns should be addressed when prioritizing areas for conservation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)875-889
Number of pages15
JournalConservation Genetics
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Nature B.V.

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Endangered salamander
  • Gene flow
  • Genetic diversity
  • Peripheral populations

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