Population genetic structure, gene flow and sex-biased dispersal in frillneck lizards (Chlamydosaurus kingii)


Thomas Madsen, Fax: +61 2 4221 4135; E-mail: madsen@uow.edu.au


By using both mitochondrial and nuclear multiloci markers, we explored population genetic structure, gene flow and sex-specific dispersal of frillneck lizards (Chlamydosaurus kingii) sampled at three locations, separated by 10 to 50 km, in a homogenous savannah woodland in tropical Australia. Apart from a recombinant lizard, the mitochondrial analyses revealed two nonoverlapping haplotypes/populations, while the nuclear markers showed that the frillneck lizards represented three separate clusters/populations. Due to the small population size of the mtDNA, fixation may occur via founder effects and/or drift. We therefore suggest that either of these two processes, or a combination of the two, are the most likely causes of the discordant results obtained from the mitochondrial and the nuclear markers. In contrast to the nonoverlapping mitochondrial haplotypes, in 12 out of 74 lizards, mixed nuclear genotypes were observed, hence revealing a limited nuclear gene flow. Although gene flow should ultimately result in a blending of the populations, we propose that the distinct nuclear population structure is maintained by frequent fires resulting in local bottlenecks, and concomitant spatial separation of the frillneck lizard populations. Limited mark–recapture data and the difference in distribution of the mitochondrial and nuclear markers suggest that the mixed nuclear genotypes were caused by juvenile male-biased dispersal.