Temporally stable genetic variability and dynamic kinship structure in fluctuating population of the root vole Microtus oeconomus

Pilot, Malgorzata, Dabrowski, Michal, Jancewicz, Elzbieta , Schtickzelle, Nicolas and Gliwicz, Joanna (2010) Temporally stable genetic variability and dynamic kinship structure in fluctuating population of the root vole Microtus oeconomus. Molecular Ecology, 19 (13). pp. 2800-2812. ISSN 0962-1083

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04692.x

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Genetic variability, kin structure and demography of a population are mutually dependent. Population genetic theory predicts that under demographically stable conditions, neutral genetic variability reaches equilibrium between gene flow and drift. However, density fluctuations and non-random mating, resulting e.g. from kin cluster- ing, may lead to changes in genetic composition over time. Theoretical models also predict that changes in kin structure may affect aggression level and recruitment, leading to density fluctuations. These predictions have been rarely tested in natural populations. The aim of this study was to analyse changes in genetic variability and kin structure in a local population of the root vole (Microtus oeconomus) that underwent a fourfold change in mean density over a 6-year period. Intensive live-trapping resulted in sampling 88% of individuals present in the study area, as estimated from mark–recapture data. Based on 642 individual genotypes at 20 microsatellite loci, we compared genetic variability and kin structure of this population between consecutive years. We found that immigration was negatively correlated with density, while the number of kin groups was positively correlated with density. This is consistent with theoretical predictions that changes in kin structure play an important role in population fluctuations. Despite the changes in density and kin structure, there was no genetic differentiation between years. Popula- tion-level genetic diversity measures did not significantly vary in time and remained relatively high (HE range: 0.72–0.78). These results show that a population that undergoes significant demographic and social changes may maintain high genetic variability and stable genetic composition.

Keywords:arvicolid rodents, kin structure, temporal genetic variability
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:7257
Deposited On:14 Jan 2013 16:24

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