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      Connectivity rescues genetic diversity after a demographic bottleneck in a butterfly population network

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      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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          Abstract

          <p id="d10574637e176">With climate change and associated climatic instability, populations are expected to experience more frequent and severe fluctuations in size. These population size fluctuations erode genetic diversity, which is a central concern for conservation. Connectivity among habitats should, in theory, protect against the erosion of genetic diversity because immigration of individuals into populations can counteract genetic diversity loss. Our study provides the first evidence in a natural system for a direct effect of connectivity in recovery of genetic diversity following a demographic bottleneck, highlighting the importance of maintaining connectivity in the face of climate change. Our results suggest an important potential interaction between the two global change factors of habitat fragmentation and climate change on genetic diversity of natural populations. </p><p class="first" id="d10574637e179">Demographic bottlenecks that occur when populations fluctuate in size erode genetic diversity, but that diversity can be recovered through immigration. Connectivity among populations and habitat patches in the landscape enhances immigration and should in turn facilitate recovery of genetic diversity after a sudden reduction in population size. For the conservation of genetic diversity, it may therefore be particularly important to maintain connectivity in the face of factors that increase demographic instability, such as climate change. However, a direct link between connectivity and recovery of genetic diversity after a demographic bottleneck has not been clearly demonstrated in an empirical system. Here, we show that connectivity of habitat patches in the landscape contributes to the maintenance of genetic diversity after a demographic bottleneck. We were able to monitor genetic diversity in a network of populations of the alpine butterfly, <i>Parnassius smintheus</i>, before, during, and after a severe reduction in population size that lasted two generations. We found that allelic diversity in the network declined after the demographic bottleneck but that less allelic diversity was lost from populations occupying habitat patches with higher connectivity. Furthermore, the effect of connectivity on allelic diversity was important during the demographic recovery phase. Our results demonstrate directly the ability of connectivity to mediate the rescue of genetic diversity in a natural system. </p>

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          Most cited references 28

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          The Bottleneck Effect and Genetic Variability in Populations

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            A Practical Model of Metapopulation Dynamics

             Ilkka Hanski (1994)
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              Inbreeding and extinction in a butterfly metapopulation

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                September 27 2016
                September 27 2016
                September 27 2016
                September 12 2016
                : 113
                : 39
                : 10914-10919
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1600865113
                5047165
                27621433
                © 2016

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