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Data from: Pyrenean ptarmigan decline under climatic and human influences through the Holocene


Bech, Nicolas et al. (2013), Data from: Pyrenean ptarmigan decline under climatic and human influences through the Holocene, Dryad, Dataset,


In Europe, the Quaternary is characterized by climatic fluctuations known to have led to many cycles of contraction and expansion of species geographical ranges. In addition, during the Holocene, historical changes in human occupation such as colonization or abandonment of traditional land uses can also affect habitats. These climatically or anthropically induced geographic range changes are expected to produce considerable effective populations size change, measurable in terms of genetic diversity and organization. The rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) is a small-bodied grouse occurring throughout Northern hemispheric arctic and alpine tundra. This species is not considered threatened at a continental scale, but the populations in the Pyrenees are because of their small population size, geographical isolation, and low genetic diversity. Here, we used eleven microsatellites to investigate genetic variations and differentiations and infer the overall demographic history of Pyrenean rock ptarmigan populations. The low genetic variability found in these populations has been previously thought to be the result of a bottleneck that occurred following the last glacial maximum (i.e., 10,000 years ago) or more recently (i.e., during the last 200 years). Our results clearly indicate a major bottleneck affecting the populations in the last tenth of the Holocene. We discuss how this decline can be explained by a combination of unfavorable and successive events which all increased the degree of habitat fragmentation.

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Pyrenees Mountains