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Proc Biol Sci. 2002 Jan 22;269(1487):119-25.

Great bustard population structure in central Spain: concordant results from genetic analysis and dispersal study.

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Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain.


We found significant sex differences in the mtDNA genetic structure and dispersal patterns of great bustards in a population of 11 breeding groups, "leks", in central Spain. The analysis of genetic distances showed that the female population was divided into three groups of leks separated by ca. 50 km, whereas male haplotypes were randomly distributed among leks. Genetic distances among pairs of leks were positively correlated with geographical distances in females but not in males. While female haplotype distributions were homogeneous among leks at close distances, differences in male genetic structure were highly variable even between two close leks. These results from genetic analyses were concordant with those from a radiotracking study on natal dispersal. Natal dispersal distances were higher in males than in females. Also, the frequency of movement of a female between two leks was positively correlated with their genetic affinity and geographical proximity. In males, the frequency of movement was correlated with geographical proximity but not with genetic affinity. Males dispersed among genetically unrelated leks, contributing to keep nuclear genetic diversity in the population, whereas females tended to be philopatric. These results suggest that isolation-by-distance influences the distribution of maternal lineages at a regional level.

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