Spatial genetic structure in the rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) across the Namaqualand and western Fynbos areas of South Africa — A mitochondrial and microsatellite perspective

J. H. Visser, T. J. Robinson, B. Jansen Van Vuuren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The interplay between biotic and abiotic environments is increasingly recognized as a major determinant of spatial genetic patterns. Among spatial genetic studies, saxicolous or rock-dwelling species remain underrepresented in spite of their strict dependence on landscape structure. Here we investigated patterns and processes operating at different spatial (fine and regional scales) and time scales (using mitochondrial and microsatellite markers) in the rock hyrax (Procavia capensis (Pallas, 1766)). Our focus was on the western seaboard of South Africa and included two recognized biodiversity hotspots (Cape Floristic Region and Succulent Karoo). At fine spatial scale, significant genetic structure was present between four rocky outcrops in an isolated population, likely driven by the social system of this species. At a broader spatial scale, ecological dependence on rocky habitat and population-level processes, in conjunction with landscape structure, appeared to be the main drivers of genetic diversity and structure. Large areas devoid of suitable rocky habitat (e.g., the Knersvlakte, Sandveld, and Cape Flats, South Africa) represent barriers to gene flow in the species, although genetic clusters closely follow climatic, geological, and phytogeographic regions, possibly indicating ecological specialization or adaptation as contributing factors enforcing isolation. Taken together, our study highlights the need to consider both intrinsic and extrinsic factors when investigating spatial genetic structures within species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-571
Number of pages15
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume98
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Afrotheria
  • Cape Flats
  • Knersvlakte
  • Landscape connectivity
  • Landscape genetics
  • Phylogeography
  • Procavia capensis
  • Rock hyrax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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