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Genetic survey of two endangered grasshopper subspecies, Prionotropis hystrix rhodanica and Prionotropis hystrix azami (Orthoptera, Pamphagidae) : Within- and between-population dynamics at the regional scale

Streiff R., Audiot P., Foucart A., Lecoq M., Rasplus J.Y.. 2006. Conservation Genetics, 7 (3) : p. 331-344.

The fragmentation and destruction of natural habitats is one of the major causes of extinction of wild flora and fauna due to human activities. The area around the Mediterranean Basin is particularly affected: this region is one of the world's richest in terms of biodiversity and is undergoing substantial modification due to extensive changes in land use. We investigated the demographic state (through a genetic survey) of an endangered grasshopper, the geographical distribution of which is restricted to arid open land or glades in south-eastern France. We compared two subspecies: one is severely threatened by the fragmentation of its specific and restricted habitat (Prionotropis hystrix rhodanica in the 'Crau' steppe) whereas the other, P. h. azami, occurs more widely in glades or clearings in the evergreen Mediterranean forest. Genetic diversity at eight microsatellite loci was highly structured, indicating substantial isolation of populations. Within-population diversity was high at all but one site. Genetic drift was the major force involved in this genetic structure, with very little gene flow at the regional scale of observation, consistent with both the limited dispersal of this flightless species and the patchy configuration of its habitat. No significant differences in the extent of genetic diversity or population dynamics were observed between the two sub-species. The observed genetic pattern calls into question the validity of the subspecies status, and shows no strong impact of recent anthropogenic modification of the Crau steppe. The evolution of the Mediterranean xeric and open habitats under both natural and anthropogenic processes is discussed. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : marqueur génétique; flux de gènes; génétique des populations; variation génétique; conservation biologique; migration animale; habitat; distribution géographique; Écologie des populations; espèce en danger; acrididae; france; prionotropis hystrix rhodanica; prionotropis hystrix azami

Thématique : Ravageurs des plantes; Ecologie animale

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