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Evaluating the functionality of expert-assessed wildlife corridors with genetic data: setting priorities for management measures in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)

Autori
Burkart, S.
Anno di pubblicazione
2013
Citazione:

Burkart, S., 2013: Evaluating the functionality of expert-assessed wildlife corridors with genetic data: setting priorities for management measures in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Master thesis.

 

Burkart, S. 2013. Evaluating the functionality of expert-assessed wildlife corridors with genetic data: setting priorities for management measures in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Masterarbeit der ETH Zürich, geleitet von Janine Bolliger, WSL Birmensdorf, und Felix Gugerli, WSL Birmensdorf

 

Transport infrastructure such as fenced motorways may cause the loss of functional connectivity in landscapes by impeding the passage of individuals and thus reducing gene flow. This may result in increased genetic differentiation and possibly inbreeding, eventually leading to reduced genetic diversity of wildlife populations owing to genetic drift. Landscape managers and conservation agencies apply a range of measures to mitigate such adverse effects for wildlife in intensively managed landscapes. Among these, expert-assessed wildlife corridors are used to evaluate the permeability of a landscape for wildlife. The corridors are qualitatively categorized into intact or interrupted. Here, we used landscape genetics to test whether functional connectivity among roe- deer populations, inferred from spatial genetic structure, supports the expert-assessed categorization of wildlife corridors in the Swiss Plateau and the northern Prealps. Though the genetic structure of roe deer is not very pronounced at the landscape scale, we observed distinct local genetic structure. Overall, wildlife corridors formerly identified as intact are supported by showing low genetic differentiation between roe-deer populations (average FST = 0.008), whereas interrupted corridors exhibited higher genetic differentiation (average FST = 0.022). This study serves as reference for assessing the need to take management measures and setting priorities for reconnecting or maintaining functional wildlife corridors.