Implications of spatial genetic patterns for conserving African leopards

Anne Ropiquet, Andrew T. Knight, Céline Born, Quinton Martins, Guy Balme, Lawrence Kirkendall, Luke Hunter, Charl Senekal, Conrad A. Matthee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is heavily persecuted in areas where it predates livestock and threatens human well-being. Attempts to resolve human-leopard conflict typically involve translocating problem animals; however, these interventions are rarely informed by genetic studies and can unintentionally compromise the natural spatial genetic structure and diversity, and possibly the long-term persistence, of the species. No significant genetic discontinuities were definable within the southern African leopard population. Analysis of fine-scale genetic data derived from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA revealed that the primary natural process shaping the spatial genetic structure of the species is isolation-by-distance (IBD). The effective gene dispersal (σ) index can inform leopard translocations and is estimated to be 82km for some South African leopards. The importance of adopting an evidence-based strategy is discussed for supporting the integration of genetic data, spatial planning and social learning institutions so as to promote collaboration between land managers, government agency staff and researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)728-737
Number of pages10
JournalComptes Rendus - Biologies
Volume338
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

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