Research Article

Patterns of genetic diversity and population structure of the threatened Houbara and Macqueen’s bustards as revealed by microsatellite markers

Published: September 12, 2012
Genet. Mol. Res. 11 (3) : 3207-3221 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4238/2012.September.12.4
Cite this Article:
(2012). Patterns of genetic diversity and population structure of the threatened Houbara and Macqueen’s bustards as revealed by microsatellite markers. Genet. Mol. Res. 11(3): gmr1530. https://doi.org/10.4238/2012.September.12.4
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Abstract

The Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) is a threatened avian species that is rapidly declining throughout its range, especially in North Africa, Asia and the Canary Islands. We examined the population structure and genetic variation for the three Houbara subspecies C. undulata undulata, C. u. fuertaventurae and C. u. macqueenii. A total of 266 birds from 10 populations were genotyped using seven polymorphic microsatellite markers. The analysis of microsatellite loci generated 1821 genotypes and 55 different alleles. Estimates of observed and expected heterozygosities were relatively high and ranged from 0.371 to 0.687 and from 0.326 to 0.729, respectively. For the first time, significant phylogeographic structure among Asian Houbara populations was found using neutral nuclear markers. Analysis of molecular variance revealed 12.03% population variability among the subspecies. Population structure and assignment tests inferred using a Bayesian approach revealed two distinct clusters with more than 90% likelihood, one Asian and one North African. A positive correlation between genetic distance and geographic distance was detected among populations (r2 = 0.302). For conservation purposes, this genetic information will help understand the current genetic status improving management strategies for Houbara bustard breeds and populations.

The Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) is a threatened avian species that is rapidly declining throughout its range, especially in North Africa, Asia and the Canary Islands. We examined the population structure and genetic variation for the three Houbara subspecies C. undulata undulata, C. u. fuertaventurae and C. u. macqueenii. A total of 266 birds from 10 populations were genotyped using seven polymorphic microsatellite markers. The analysis of microsatellite loci generated 1821 genotypes and 55 different alleles. Estimates of observed and expected heterozygosities were relatively high and ranged from 0.371 to 0.687 and from 0.326 to 0.729, respectively. For the first time, significant phylogeographic structure among Asian Houbara populations was found using neutral nuclear markers. Analysis of molecular variance revealed 12.03% population variability among the subspecies. Population structure and assignment tests inferred using a Bayesian approach revealed two distinct clusters with more than 90% likelihood, one Asian and one North African. A positive correlation between genetic distance and geographic distance was detected among populations (r2 = 0.302). For conservation purposes, this genetic information will help understand the current genetic status improving management strategies for Houbara bustard breeds and populations.