Herbivore corridors sustain genetic footprint in plant populations : a case for Spanish drove roads

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García-Fernández , A , Manzano , P , Seoane , J , Azcárate , F M , Iriondo , J M & Peco , B 2019 , ' Herbivore corridors sustain genetic footprint in plant populations : a case for Spanish drove roads ' , PeerJ , vol. 7 , 7311 . https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7311

Title: Herbivore corridors sustain genetic footprint in plant populations : a case for Spanish drove roads
Author: García-Fernández, Alfredo; Manzano, Pablo; Seoane, Javier; Azcárate, Francisco M.; Iriondo, Jose M.; Peco, Begoña
Contributor organization: Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme
Global Change and Conservation Lab
Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
Date: 2019-07-15
Language: eng
Number of pages: 27
Belongs to series: PeerJ
ISSN: 2167-8359
DOI: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7311
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/315275
Abstract: Habitat fragmentation is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem productivity mediated by direct human impact. Its consequences include genetic depauperation, comprising phenomena such as inbreeding depression or reduction in genetic diversity. While the capacity of wild and domestic herbivores to sustain long-distance seed dispersal has been proven, the impact of herbivore corridors in plant population genetics remains to be observed. We conducted this study in the Conquense Drove Road in Spain, where sustained use by livestock over centuries has involved transhumant herds passing twice a year en route to winter and summer pastures. We compared genetic diversity and inbreeding coefficients of Plantago lagopus populations along the drove road with populations in the surrounding agricultural matrix, at varying distances from human settlements. We observed significant differences in coefficients of inbreeding between the drove road and the agricultural matrix, as well as significant trends indicative of higher genetic diversity and population nestedness around human settlements. Trends for higher genetic diversity along drove roads may be present, although they were only marginally significant due to the available sample size. Our results illustrate a functional landscape with human settlements as dispersal hotspots, while the findings along the drove road confirm its role as a pollinator reservoir observed in other studies. Drove roads may possibly also function as linear structures that facilitate long-distance dispersal across the agricultural matrix, while local P. lagopus populations depend rather on short-distance seed dispersal. These results highlight the role of herbivore corridors for conserving the migration capacity of plants, and contribute towards understanding the role of seed dispersal and the spread of invasive species related to human activities.
Subject: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Plantago lagopus
Herbivore corridors
Landscape genetics
Drove roads
Seed dispersal
Human-mediated dispersal
1172 Environmental sciences
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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