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Molecular population genetics of the red kangaroo (Macropus rufus): mtDNA variation


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The genetic population structure of a large, wide-ranging marsupial, the red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) was assessed using sequence and haplotype frequency data of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from locations across the species range in Australia. Results from sequence data revealed extensive haplotype diversity within the red kangaroo (32/34 sequences were unique). Sequence diversity was distributed within rather than between geographical regions across the species range. Genetic connectivity across the range of the species has therefore been maintained over the long term. On a smaller within-region scale, significant genetic structuring was evident from heterogeneity of haplotype frequencies amongst sampling sites. The geographical scale of panmictic populations differed across the continent with more restricted genetic populations occurring in areas with greater topographic and habitat complexity. We propose that these differences in area of genetic populations are the result of population responses to limiting ecological factors during drought.