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Non-invasive sampling reveals low mitochondrial genetic diversity for a Critically Endangered island endemic species
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  • Catherine Peters,
  • Matt Geary,
  • Charlotte Hosie ,
  • Howard Nelson,
  • Bonnie Rusk,
  • Anna Muir
Catherine Peters
University of Chester

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Matt Geary
University of Chester
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Charlotte Hosie
University of Chester
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Howard Nelson
University of Cambridge
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Bonnie Rusk
Grenada Dove Conservation Programme
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Anna Muir
University of Chester
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As an island endemic with a decreasing population, the Critically Endangered Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi is threatened by accelerated loss of genetic diversity resulting from ongoing habitat fragmentation. Small, threatened populations are difficult to sample directly but advances in molecular methods mean that non-invasive samples can be used. We performed the first assessment of genetic diversity of populations of Grenada Dove by a) assessing mtDNA genetic diversity in the only two areas of occupancy on Grenada, b) defining the number of haplotypes present at each site and c) evaluating evidence of isolation between sites. We used non-invasively collected samples from two locations: Mt Hartman (n=18) and Perseverance (n=12). DNA extraction and PCR were used to amplify 1,751 bps of mtDNA from two mitochondrial markers: NADH dehydrogenase 2 (ND2) and Cytochrome b (Cyt b). Haplotype diversity (h) of 0.4, a nucleotide diversity (π) of 0.4 and two unique haplotypes were identified within the ND2 sequences; one haplotype was identified within the Cyt b sequences. Of the two haplotypes identified; the most common haplotype (haplotype A = 73.9%) was observed at both sites and the other (haplotype B = 26.1%) was unique to Perseverance. Our results show low mitochondrial genetic diversity, a non-expanding population and clear evidence for genetically isolated populations. The Grenada Dove needs urgent conservation action, including habitat protection and potentially augmentation of gene flow by translocation in order to increase genetic resilience and diversity with the ultimate aim of securing the long-term survival of this Critically Endangered species.
28 Jul 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
31 Jul 2023Submission Checks Completed
31 Jul 2023Assigned to Editor
03 Aug 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
11 Aug 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Sep 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
15 Oct 20231st Revision Received
18 Oct 2023Assigned to Editor
18 Oct 2023Submission Checks Completed
18 Oct 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
23 Oct 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
27 Oct 20232nd Revision Received
31 Oct 2023Submission Checks Completed
31 Oct 2023Assigned to Editor
31 Oct 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
07 Nov 2023Editorial Decision: Accept