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Keywords:

  • Bayesian clustering;
  • black grouse;
  • dispersal;
  • genetic diversity;
  • habitat fragmentation;
  • isolation by distance;
  • microsatellites;
  • Tetrao tetrix

Abstract

We investigated the association of habitat fragmentation with genetic structure of male black grouse Tetrao tetrix. Using 14 microsatellites, we compared the genetic differentiation of males among nine localities in continuous lowland habitats in Finland to the genetic differentiation among 14 localities in fragmented habitats in the Alps (France, Switzerland and Italy). In both areas, we found significant genetic differentiation. However, the average differentiation, measured as θ, was more than three times higher in the Alps than in Finland. The greater differentiation found in the Alps is probably due to the presence of mountain ridges rising above natural habitats of the species, which form barriers to gene flow, and to a higher influence of genetic drift resulting from lower effective sizes in highly fragmented habitats. The detection of isolation by distance in the Alps suggests that gene flow among populations does occur. The genetic variability measured as gene diversity HE and allelic richness A was lower in the Alps than in Finland. This could result from the higher fragmentation and/or from the fact that populations in the Alps are isolated from the main species range and have a lower effective size than in Finland. This study suggests that habitat fragmentation can affect genetic structure of avian species with relatively high dispersal propensities.