Random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis of southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus) populations in Western Australia reveals genetic differentiation related to environmental variables


M. L. Cooper, 1/467 Canning Hwy, Melville, WA 6156, Australia. Tel: +61-89272-1267; E-mail: hedgepigs@hotmail.com


Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers were used to analyse genetic variation within and between populations of Isoodon obesulus in Western Australia. Genetically controlled geographical variation in body size associated with habitat type and rainfall exists in this species, raising the question of whether local conditions may influence gene flow in I. obesulus. The RAPD markers displayed substantial genetic variation, with all animals possessing unique RAPD phenotypes over 39 polymorphic bands produced by three primers. Significant geographical subdivision was apparent (ΦST = 0.208) with southwest locations being divergent from all others, despite there being no physical barriers to gene flow. The pattern of subdivision was unrelated to physical distance between the locations, but was related to both annual rainfall and habitat type. Therefore, the most reasonable explanation for this pattern of subdivision appears to be that gene flow is restricted by selection against migrants between local populations with substantially different habitat type or rainfall. Restriction of gene flow through selection against migrants is rarely investigated, and the results of this study suggest that the importance of this process in the formation of population structure may be underestimated.