Data from: Fenced and fragmented: conservation value of managed metapopulations
Miller, Susan M. et al. (2016), Data from: Fenced and fragmented: conservation value of managed metapopulations, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fc2vv
Population fragmentation is threatening biodiversity worldwide. Species that once roamed vast areas are increasingly being conserved in small, isolated areas. Modern management approaches must adapt to ensure the continued survival and conservation value of these populations. In South Africa, a managed metapopulation approach has been adopted for several large carnivore species, all protected in isolated, relatively small, reserves that are fenced. As far as possible these approaches are based on natural metapopulation structures. In this network, over the past 25 years, African lions (Panthera leo) were reintroduced into 44 fenced reserves with little attention given to maintaining genetic diversity. To examine the situation, we investigated the current genetic provenance and diversity of these lions. We found that overall genetic diversity was similar to that in a large national park, and included a mixture of four different southern African evolutionarily significant units (ESUs). This mixing of ESUs, while not ideal, provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of mixing ESUs over the long term. We propose a strategic managed metapopulation plan to ensure the maintenance of genetic diversity and improve the long-term conservation value of these lions. This managed metapopulation approach could be applied to other species under similar ecological constraints around the globe.