Adaptation to ephemeral habitat may overcome natural barriers and severe habitat fragmentation in a fire-dependent species, the Bachman's Sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis)
Bachman's Sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis) is a fire-dependent species that has undergone range-wide population declines in recent decades. We examined genetic diversity in Bachman's Sparrows to determine whether natural barriers have led to distinct population units and to assess the effect of anthropogenic habitat loss and fragmentation. Genetic diversity was examined across the geographic range by genotyping 226 individuals at 18 microsatellite loci and sequencing 48 individuals at mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Multiple analyses consistently demonstrated little genetic structure and high levels of genetic variation, suggesting that populations are panmictic. Based on these genetic data, separate management units/subspecies designations or translocations to promote gene flow among fragmented populations do not appear to be necessary. Panmixia in Bachman's Sparrow may be a consequence of an historical range expansion and retraction. Alternatively, high vagility in Bachman's Sparrow may be an adaptation to the ephemeral, fire-mediated habitat that this species prefers. In recent times, high vagility also appears to have offset inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity in highly fragmented habitat. © 2014 Cerame et al.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Cerame, B., Cox, J., Brumfield, R., Tucker, J., & Taylor, S. (2014). Adaptation to ephemeral habitat may overcome natural barriers and severe habitat fragmentation in a fire-dependent species, the Bachman's Sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis). PLoS ONE, 9 (9) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0105782