Population Genetic Structure of Savannah Elephants in Kenya: Conservation and Management Implications

Submitted by Archiver on Mon, 15/10/2018 - 16:44
Abstract

We investigated population genetic structure and regional differentiation among African savannah elephants in Kenya using
mitochondrial and microsatellite markers. We observed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) nucleotide diversity of 1.68% and
microsatellite variation in terms of average number of alleles, expected and observed heterozygosities in the total study
population of 10.20, 0.75, and 0.69, respectively. Hierarchical analysis of molecular variance of mtDNA variation revealed
significant differentiation among the 3 geographical regions studied (FCT 5 0.264; P , 0.05) and a relatively lower
differentiation among populations within regions (FSC 5 0.218; P , 0.0001). Microsatellite variation significantly
differentiated among populations within regions (FSC 5 0.019; P , 0.0001) but not at the regional levels (FCT 5 0.000;
P . 0.500). We attribute the high differentiation at the mitochondrial genome to the matrilineal social structure of elephant
populations, female natal philopatry, and probably ancient vicariance. Lack of significant regional differentiation at the
nuclear loci vis-a-vis strong differences at mtDNA loci between regions is likely the effect of subsequent homogenization
through male-mediated gene flow. Our results depicting 3 broad regional mtDNA groups and the observed population
genetic differentiation as well as connectivity patterns should be incorporated in the planning of future management
activities such as translocations.

Author

JOHN B. A. OKELLO, CHARLES MASEMBE, HENRIK B. RASMUSSEN, GEORGE WITTEMYER, PATRICK OMONDI,
ONESMAS KAHINDI, VINCENT B. MUWANIKA, PETER ARCTANDER, IAIN DOUGLAS-HAMILTON,
SILVESTER NYAKAANA, AND HANS R. SIEGISMUND

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