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. 2020 Apr 21;8:16.
doi: 10.1186/s40462-020-00204-y. eCollection 2020.

The Boon and Bane of Boldness: Movement Syndrome as Saviour and Sink for Population Genetic Diversity

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Free PMC article

The Boon and Bane of Boldness: Movement Syndrome as Saviour and Sink for Population Genetic Diversity

Joseph Premier et al. Mov Ecol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: Many felid species are of high conservation concern, and with increasing human disturbance the situation is worsening. Small isolated populations are at risk of genetic impoverishment decreasing within-species biodiversity. Movement is known to be a key behavioural trait that shapes both demographic and genetic dynamics and affects population survival. However, we have limited knowledge on how different manifestations of movement behaviour translate to population processes. In this study, we aimed to 1) understand the potential effects of movement behaviour on the genetic diversity of small felid populations in heterogeneous landscapes, while 2) presenting a simulation tool that can help inform conservation practitioners following, or considering, population management actions targeting the risk of genetic impoverishment.

Methods: We developed a spatially explicit individual-based population model including neutral genetic markers for felids and applied this to the example of Eurasian lynx. Using a neutral landscape approach, we simulated reintroductions into a three-patch system, comprising two breeding patches separated by a larger patch of differing landscape heterogeneity, and tested for the effects of various behavioural movement syndromes and founder population sizes. We explored a range of movement syndromes by simulating populations with various movement model parametrisations that range from 'shy' to 'bold' movement behaviour.

Results: We find that movement syndromes can lead to a higher loss of genetic diversity and an increase in between population genetic structure for both "bold" and "shy" movement behaviours, depending on landscape conditions, with larger decreases in genetic diversity and larger increases in genetic differentiation associated with bold movement syndromes, where the first colonisers quickly reproduce and subsequently dominate the gene pool. In addition, we underline the fact that a larger founder population can offset the genetic losses associated with subpopulation isolation and gene pool dominance.

Conclusions: We identified a movement syndrome trade-off for population genetic variation, whereby bold-explorers could be saviours - by connecting populations and promoting panmixia, or sinks - by increasing genetic losses via a 'founder takes all' effect, whereas shy-stayers maintain a more gradual genetic drift due to their more cautious behaviour. Simulations should incorporate movement behaviour to provide better projections of long-term population viability and within-species biodiversity, which includes genetic diversity. Simulations incorporating demographics and genetics have great potential for informing conservation management actions, such as population reintroductions or reinforcements. Here, we present such a simulation tool for solitary felids.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Schematic representation of reproduction process for adult males and females with overlapping territories, showing an offspring’s potential allele inheritance at two exemplary loci without mutation (F). Given mutation (T) this is handled using the ‘stepwise mutation model’ (SMM)
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Neutral landscapes with “source” and “arrival” breeding patches separated by a varying “connectivity” patch with differing configurations of ‘matrix habitat’ and ‘dispersal habitat’, exemplified with ‘dispersal habitat’ amounts 10–80% coverage and ‘degree of fragmentation’ values 1 (randomly distributed dispersal habitat) and value 4 (large blocks of continuous dispersal habitat). Twenty-five iterations of each landscape were used
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Genetic diversity Ho of population in the 200th year after reintroduction. Simulations carried out in a three-patch landscape with “source” and “arrival” breeding habitat patches separated by a “connectivity” patch with varying amounts of ‘dispersal habitat’ and varying ‘degrees of fragmentation’ (i.e. from 1 for randomly distributed dispersal habitat to 4 for large blocks of continuous dispersal habitat), for 3 different movement syndromes (MS 1: shy, MS 2: intermediate, MS 3: bold) and 3 sizes of the founder population
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
FST (fixation index - population differentiation due to genetic structure) based on a two sub-population structure in the 200th year after reintroduction. Simulations carried out in a three-patch landscape with “source” and “arrival” breeding habitat patches separated by a “connectivity” patch with varying amounts of ‘dispersal habitat’ and varying ‘degrees of fragmentation’ (i.e. from 1 for randomly distributed dispersal habitat to 4 for large blocks of continuous dispersal habitat), for 3 different movement syndromes (MS 1: shy, MS 2: intermediate, MS 3: bold) and 3 sizes of the founder population
Fig. 5
Fig. 5
FIS (F-statistic - inbreeding coefficient, proportion of subpopulation genetic variability contained within one individual) based on a two sub-population structure in the 200th year after reintroduction. Simulations carried out in a three-patch landscape with “source” and “arrival” breeding habitat patches separated by a “connectivity” patch with varying amounts of ‘dispersal habitat’ and varying ‘degrees of fragmentation’ (i.e. from 1 for randomly distributed dispersal habitat to 4 for large blocks of continuous dispersal habitat), for 3 different movement syndromes (MS 1: shy, MS 2: intermediate, MS 3: bold) and 3 sizes of the founder population

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