Phylogenetic Reanalysis of the Saudi Gazelle and Its Implications for Conservation

Authors

  • Robert L. Hammond,

    Corresponding author
    1. King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre, National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, P.O.Box 61681, Riyadh 11575, Saudi Arabia
    2. Field Conservation and Consultancy, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY,
      United Kingdom
    3. Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY, United Kingdom
      Current address: Institute of Zoology, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY, United Kingdom, email rob.hammond@ioz.ac.uk
    Search for more papers by this author
  • William Macasero,

    1. King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre, National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, P.O.Box 61681, Riyadh 11575, Saudi Arabia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Benito Flores,

    1. King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre, National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, P.O.Box 61681, Riyadh 11575, Saudi Arabia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Osama B. Mohammed,

    1. King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre, National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, P.O.Box 61681, Riyadh 11575, Saudi Arabia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Tim Wacher,

    1. King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre, National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, P.O.Box 61681, Riyadh 11575, Saudi Arabia
    2. Field Conservation and Consultancy, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY,
      United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Michael W. Bruford

    1. Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY, United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
    • **

      Current address: School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3TL, United Kingdom


Current address: Institute of Zoology, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY, United Kingdom, email rob.hammond@ioz.ac.uk

Abstract

Abstract:The identification of taxonomically appropriate populations of endangered species for captive breeding and reintroduction programs is fundamental to the success of those programs. The Saudi gazelle (  Gazella saudiya) was endemic to the Arabian peninsula but is now considered extinct in the wild and is potentially a candidate for captive breeding and reintroduction. Using 375 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) cytochrome b gene derived from museum samples collected from the wild prior to the presumed extinction of this species, we show that G. saudiya is the sister taxon of the African dorcas gazelle ( G. dorcas). Reciprocal monophyly of G. saudiya mtDNA haplotypes with G. dorcas, coupled with morphological distinctiveness, suggests that it is an evolutionarily significant unit. These data indicate that captive populations identified previously as potential sources of G. saudiya for captive breeding appear incorrectly designated and are irrelevant to the conservation of G. saudiya. The polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism ( PCR-RFLP) analysis of several private collections of living gazelles in Saudi Arabia provides no evidence for the survival of G. saudiya. We recommend that field surveys be undertaken to establish whether G. saudiya is indeed extinct in the wild and that other private collections within the Arabian peninsula be screened genetically. We urge caution when captive animals of unknown provenance are used to investigate the phylogenetics of cryptic species groups.

Abstract

Resumen: La identificación de poblaciones taxonómicamente apropiadas de especies en peligro para programas de reproducción en cautiverio y de reintroducción es fundamental para su éxito. La Gacela Saudi (Gazella saudiya) fue endémica a la península de Arabia pero ahora está considerada como extinta en su medio y es un candidato potencial para reproducción en cautiverio y reintroducción. Utilizando 375 pares de bases de ADN mitocondrial (ADNmt) del gene citocromo b derivados de muestras de museos colectadas en el medio silvestre antes de la extinción de la especie, mostramos que G. saudiya es el taxón hermano de la gacela dorcas africana (G. dorcas). La monofilia recíproca de haplotipos de ADNmt de G. saudiya con G. dorcas, aunado a diferencias morfológicas, sugiere que es una unidad evolutiva significativa. Estos datos indican que las poblaciones cautivas identificadas previamente como fuente potencial de G. saudiya para reproducción en cautiverio están incorrectamente identificadas y son irrelevantes para la conservación de G. saudiya. El análisis PCR-RFLP de varias colecciones privadas de gacelas vivas en Arabia Saudita no proporcionan evidencia para la supervivencia de G. saudiya. Recomendamos que se realicen muestreos en el campo para establecer si en efecto G. saudiya está extinta en su hábitat y que se examinen genéticamente las otras colecciones privadas en la península Arábiga. Recomendamos precaución cuando animales cautivos de origen desconocido son utilizados para investigar la filogenia de grupos de especies crípticas.

Ancillary