The population and landscape genetics of the European badger (Meles meles) in Ireland

Guerrero, J. et al. (2018) The population and landscape genetics of the European badger (Meles meles) in Ireland. Ecology and Evolution, 8(20), pp. 10233-10246. (doi: 10.1002/ece3.4498) (PMID:30397461) (PMCID:PMC6206220)

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The population genetic structure of free‐ranging species is expected to reflect landscape‐level effects. Quantifying the role of these factors and their relative contribution often has important implications for wildlife management. The population genetics of the European badger (Meles meles) have received considerable attention, not least because the species acts as a potential wildlife reservoir for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Britain and Ireland. Herein, we detail the most comprehensive population and landscape genetic study of the badger in Ireland to date—comprised of 454 Irish badger samples, genotyped at 14 microsatellite loci. Bayesian and multivariate clustering methods demonstrated continuous clinal variation across the island, with potentially distinct differentiation observed in Northern Ireland. Landscape genetic analyses identified geographic distance and elevation as the primary drivers of genetic differentiation, in keeping with badgers exhibiting high levels of philopatry. Other factors hypothesized to affect gene flow, including earth worm habitat suitability, land cover type, and the River Shannon, had little to no detectable effect. By providing a more accurate picture of badger population structure and the factors effecting it, these data can guide current efforts to manage the species in Ireland and to better understand its role in bTB.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was funded by the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs for Northern Ireland (DAERA‐NI) and DAFM—Department of Food Agriculture and the Marine, Republic of Ireland.
Keywords:Ecology, ecology, evolution, behavior and systematics, nature and landscape conservation.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Biek, Professor Roman
Authors: Guerrero, J., Byrne, A. W., Lavery, J., Presho, E., Kelly, G., Courcier, E. A., O'Keeffe, J., Fogarty, U., O'Meara, D. B., Ensing, D., McCormick, C., Biek, R., Skuce, R. A., and Allen, A. R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Ecology and Evolution
ISSN (Online):2045-7758
Published Online:12 September 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Ecology and Evolution 8(20): 10233-10246
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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