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Islands on the plains: metapopulation dynamics and female biased dispersal in hyraxes (Hyracoidea) in the Serengeti National Park

Authors

  • G. Gerlach,

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    1. *Fakultät für Biologie, Postfach 5560 M657, Universität Konstanz, D-78434 Konstanz, Germany, †Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie, 82319 Seewiesen, Germany
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  • and * H. N. Hoeck

    1. *Fakultät für Biologie, Postfach 5560 M657, Universität Konstanz, D-78434 Konstanz, Germany, †Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie, 82319 Seewiesen, Germany
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G. Gerlach. Fax: 49 7531 88 3059; E-mail:gabi.gerlach@uni-konstanz.de

Abstract

Two species of hyrax, Heterohyrax brucei and Procavia johnstoni, inhabit rock outcrops, or kopjes, in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Such distinct ‘island’ habitats provide an excellent model to investigate natural metapopulation dynamics with distinct small populations with extinction and colonization events, as well as migration between populations. Allele frequencies, genetic variability and genetic distances between populations were calculated based on DNA microsatellite markers. The genetic diversity in both species of hyrax, especially P. johnstoni, was surprisingly low: allelic diversity ranged from 2 to 7 alleles per locus. This may have been induced by colonization by a small number of individuals from single source populations. F-statistics, assignment tests and calculations of pairwise relatedness all indicated female-biased dispersal in H. brucei but not P. johnstoni. Values of FIS in P. johnstoni showed an excess of homozygotes indicative of high rates of inbreeding; evidence for inbreeding could not be detected in H. brucei. Although female dispersal patterns in H. brucei seem to prevent inbreeding and consequently reduce risk of local extinction, this seems not to be the case in P. johnstoni.

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