Conservation genetics of an island-endemic lizard: low Ne and the critical role of intermediate temperatures for genetic connectivity
Trumbo, Daryl; Funk, W. Chris; Pauly, Gregory; Robertson, Jeanne (2022), Conservation genetics of an island-endemic lizard: low Ne and the critical role of intermediate temperatures for genetic connectivity, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3xsj3txf5
Island populations are at higher risk of extinction than mainland populations. Therefore, understanding the factors that facilitate connectivity is particularly pressing for the conservation of island taxa. Sceloporus occidentalis becki, the Island Fence Lizard, is an endemic taxon restricted to the Northern Channel Islands, part of a nearshore archipelago in Southern California, USA. Since the Last Glacial Maximum, fence lizard habitat on the Northern Channel Islands has decreased with rising sea levels and increasing temperatures that have reduced the availability of woody vegetation. More recently, the introduction (and subsequent removal) of invasive ungulates over the last 170 years and recovery of vegetation has resulted in further dramatic habitat modification. Given the potential for genetic bottlenecks, the history of habitat alteration, and topographic and landscape complexity, we used landscape and population genetic approaches to characterize patterns of genetic diversity and structure of Island Fence Lizards on Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Northern Channel Islands. Our analyses revealed shallow population structure across the island, low effective population size (Ne = ~200), and evidence for a recent genetic bottleneck. Landscape genetic analyses showed that connectivity is facilitated by tree canopy cover and shrubland, as well as by intermediate temperatures, emphasizing the importance of woody vegetation and habitats with variable thermal regimes as the climate warms. Combined, these population and landscape genetic analyses suggest that the Island Fence Lizard is of greater conservation concern than currently appreciated, and increased conservation management focus is warranted for this island endemic.
Genotyped individuals using primers (in paper). Genotypes scored in GeneMapper. Site information provided in file.
California State University, Northridge
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Southern California Research Learning Center