The effect of landscape features on population genetic structure in Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) implies an anthropogenic genetic discontinuity

Authors

  • ZHIJIN LIU,

    1. Key Lab of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
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  • BAOPING REN,

    1. Key Lab of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
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  • RUIDONG WU,

    1. China Program, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), The Building of the Yunnan Provincial Meteorological Bureau, 8th Floor, 77 Xichang Road, Kunming, Yunnan 650034, China
    2. College of Life Science, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510631, China
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  • LIANG ZHAO,

    1. Key Lab of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
    3. Faculty of Biology, Suzhou University, Suzhou, Anhui 234000, China
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  • YANLI HAO,

    1. Key Lab of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
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  • BOSHI WANG,

    1. Key Lab of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
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  • FUWEN WEI,

    1. Key Lab of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
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  • YONGCHENG LONG,

    1. China Program, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), The Building of the Yunnan Provincial Meteorological Bureau, 8th Floor, 77 Xichang Road, Kunming, Yunnan 650034, China
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  • MING LI

    1. Key Lab of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
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  • This paper is a part of Zhijin Liu’s PhD dissertation research, in which he uses field and laboratory-based approaches to examine the conservation status and population genetics of Yunnan snub-nosed Monkey. Ming Li, the corresponding author, participates in several international and national scientific projects concerning conservation biology, population genetics, landscape genetics and molecular evolution of Primates in China. Authors of this paper are involved in the Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, which are leading by Professor Fuwen Wei now and focus on the behavioral and population ecology, conservation genetics, and molecular systematics in mammals and other vertebrates.

Ming Li, Fax: 8610-64807099; E-mail: lim@ioz.ac.cn

Abstract

The Tibetan Plateau is one of the top 10 biodiversity hotspots in the world and acts as a modern harbour for many rare species because of its relatively pristine state. In this article, we report a landscape genetic study on the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti), a primate endemic to the Tibetan Plateau. DNA was extracted from blood, tissue and fecal samples of 135 wild individuals representing 11 out of 15 extant monkey groups. Ten microsatellite loci were used to characterize patterns of genetic diversity. The most striking feature of the population structure is the presence of five subpopulations with distinct genetic backgrounds and unique spatial regions. The population structure of R. bieti appears to be shaped by anthropogenic landscape features as gene flow between subpopulations is strongly impeded by arable land, highways and human habitation. A partial Mantel test showed that 36.23% (= 0.51, = 0.01) of the genetic distance was explained by habitat gaps after controlling for the effect of geographical distance. Only 4.92% of the genetic distance was explained by geographical distance in the partial Mantel test, and no significant correlation was found. Estimation of population structure history indicates that environmental change during the last glacial maximum and human impacts since the Holocene, or a combination of both, have shaped the observed population structure of R. bieti. Increasing human activity on the Plateau, especially that resulting in habitat fragmentation, is becoming an important factor in shaping the genetic structure and evolutionary potential of species inhabiting this key ecosystem.

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