Khosravi R, Malekian M, Hemami M-R, Silva TL, Brito JC



The Goitered Gazelle, Gazella subgutturosa, is the most widespread gazelle species in the Middle East and central Asia inhabiting desert and semi-desert habitats. Today it is threatened and its geographic range and population size have experienced significant decline in the last decades. In Iran, the remnant populations are confined to fragmented habitats. We aimed to characterise genetic diversity and phylogenetic status of the populations of Goitered Gazelle in Central Iran and to evaluate the potential effect of a historic population bottleneck on the genetic variation of today’s population. We used noninvasive sampling to uncover structure and level of genetic variation in a fragment of the cytochrome-b gene from 170 samples. Genealogical analyses were performed using HKY+I model and phylogenetic trees reconstructed using Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood. We found extremely low levels of genetic variation, with altogether only five haplotypes in samples from different populations. Overall haplotype diversity was 0.081 and nucleotide diversity 0.0003. The mean observed mismatch between any two sequences was 0.093 with the largest peak for small numbers. The mismatch distribution fit the model of population expansion and suggested that gazelles had experienced a sudden expansion. An unrooted median-joining network analysis of mtDNA haplotypes showed a star-like structure which few mutations steps separating the haplotypes from other regions. Our findings strengthen the urgency of preserving the species’ genetic diversity to prevent local extinction.



Journal: Zoology in the Middle East

DOI: 10.1080/09397140.2019.1586127