Dietary differentiation and the evolution of population genetic structure in a Highly mobile carnivore

Pilot, Malgorzata and Jedrzejewski, Wlodzimierz and Sidorovich, Vadim E. and Meier-Augenstein, Wolfram and Hoelzel, A. Rus (2012) Dietary differentiation and the evolution of population genetic structure in a Highly mobile carnivore. PLoS ONE, 7 (6). e39341. ISSN 1932-6203

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039341

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Abstract

Recent studies on highly mobile carnivores revealed cryptic population genetic structures correlated to transitions in habitat types and prey species composition. This led to the hypothesis that natal-habitat-biased dispersal may be responsible for generating population genetic structure. However, direct evidence for the concordant ecological and genetic differentiation between populations of highly mobile mammals is rare. To address this we analyzed stable isotope profiles (d13C and d15N values) for Eastern European wolves (Canis lupus) as a quantifiable proxy measure of diet for individuals that had been genotyped in an earlier study (showing cryptic genetic structure), to provide a quantitative assessment of the relationship between individual foraging behavior and genotype. We found a significant correlation between genetic distances and dietary differentiation (explaining 46% of the variation) in both the marginal test and crucially, when geographic distance was accounted for as a co-variable. These results, interpreted in the context of other possible mechanisms such as allopatry and isolation by distance, reinforce earlier studies suggesting that diet and associated habitat choice are influencing the structuring of populations in highly mobile carnivores.

Additional Information:Recent studies on highly mobile carnivores revealed cryptic population genetic structures correlated to transitions in habitat types and prey species composition. This led to the hypothesis that natal-habitat-biased dispersal may be responsible for generating population genetic structure. However, direct evidence for the concordant ecological and genetic differentiation between populations of highly mobile mammals is rare. To address this we analyzed stable isotope profiles (d13C and d15N values) for Eastern European wolves (Canis lupus) as a quantifiable proxy measure of diet for individuals that had been genotyped in an earlier study (showing cryptic genetic structure), to provide a quantitative assessment of the relationship between individual foraging behavior and genotype. We found a significant correlation between genetic distances and dietary differentiation (explaining 46% of the variation) in both the marginal test and crucially, when geographic distance was accounted for as a co-variable. These results, interpreted in the context of other possible mechanisms such as allopatry and isolation by distance, reinforce earlier studies suggesting that diet and associated habitat choice are influencing the structuring of populations in highly mobile carnivores.
Keywords:diet, genetic differentiation, prey specialisation, dispersal, stable isotopes
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:7255
Deposited On:14 Jan 2013 15:19

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