Phylogeography and dispersal in the velvet gecko (Oedura lesueurii), and potential implications for conservation of an endangered snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides)

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2012, 12 (1)
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Background: To conserve critically endangered predators, we also need to conserve the prey species upon which they depend. Velvet geckos (Oedura lesueurii) are a primary prey for the endangered broad-headed snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides), which is restricted to sandstone habitats in southeastern Australia. We sequenced the ND2 gene from 179 velvet geckos, to clarify the lizards phylogeographic history and landscape genetics. We also analysed 260 records from a longterm (3-year) capture-mark-recapture program at three sites, to evaluate dispersal rates of geckos as a function of locality, sex and body size. Results: The genetic analyses revealed three ancient lineages in the north, south and centre of the species current range. Estimates of gene flow suggest low dispersal rates, constrained by the availability of contiguous rocky habitat. Mark-recapture records confirm that these lizards are highly sedentary, with most animals moving<30m from their original capture site even over multi-year periods. Conclusion: The low vagility of these lizards suggests that they will be slow to colonise vacant habitat patches; and hence, efforts to restore degraded habitats for broad-headed snakes may need to include translocation of lizards. © 2012 Dubey et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
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