Landscape structure can affect connectivity among populations. In a patchy landscape, specialist species that are limited to particular elements are expected to show low gene diversity, low connectivity and high differentiation among patches. Conversely, for generalist species, genetic variability and gene flow among sites are expected to be high, and differentiation is expected to be low. Here we tested this hypothesis for two rodent species: Gerbillus gerbillus, the psammophile specialist species abundant in sandy habitats, and Gerbillus nanus, the parapatric habitat generalist species, found in the more stable sands in Israel and West Africa. We found that among the psammophile specialist G. gerbillus populations, differentiation was low and connectivity was high. In contrast, the parapatric generalist species G. nanus demonstrates markedly high genetic differentiation between localities within short distances in Israel. Furthermore, our results support a division between the African and the Israeli G. nanus populations, suggesting two distinct species.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by MOST – Israel Ministry of Science and Technology, Scientific and Technological Infrastructures Development . We would like to thank Mohamed Alshamlih, Shacham Mittler, Khaled Nassar, Idan Shapira, Hatem Sultan, Roy Talbi, and Elad Topel for their help in collecting tissues for DNA samples.
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
- Gene diversity
- Habitat generalist species
- Habitat specialist
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Earth-Surface Processes