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Keywords:

  • coat colour markers;
  • Felis catus;
  • F-statistics;
  • microsatellite markers;
  • population differentiation

Abstract

We analysed levels of genetic differentiation between nine local urban colonies of stray cats using eight coat colour and nine microsatellite loci. Both types of markers revealed a strong differentiation between colonies (FST = 0.15 and 0.09 for coat colour and microsatellite loci, respectively). Three coat colour loci showed extreme levels of genetic differentiation comparatively to other loci and are strongly suspected to be under divergent selective pressures. Microsatellite loci showed significant heterozygote deficiency within colonies (FIS = 0.14), suggesting that coat colour loci are not appropriate to investigate genetic structure at a fine scale because coat colour allele frequencies are based on Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. The reported pattern conformed to that predicted from the social structuring of cat colonies: aggressive exclusion of immigrants, inbreeding and very low dispersal rate.