Simonsen Bo T., Siegismund H. R. and Arctander P. 1998
Population structure of African buffalo inferred from mtDNA sequences and microsatellite loci: high variation but low differentiation
Molecular Ecology 7: 225-237
The African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa and is found in most major vegetation types, wherever permanent sources of water are available, making it physically able to disperse through a wide range of habitats. Despite this, the buffalo has been assumed to be strongly philopatric and to form large aggregations that remain within separate home ranges with little interchange between units, but the level of differentiation within the species is unknown. Genetic differences between populations were assessed using mitochondrial DNA (control region) sequence data and analysis of variation at six microsatellite loci among 11 localities in eastern and southern Africa . High levels of genetic variability were found, suggesting that reported severe population bottlenecks due to outbreak of rinderpest during the last century did not strongly reduce the genetic variability within the species. The high level of genetic variation within the species was found to be evenly distributed among populations and only at the continental level were we able to consistently detect significant differentiation, contrasting with the assumed philopatric behavior of the buffalo. Results of mtDNA and microsatellite data were found to be congruent, disagreeing with the alleged mae-biased dispersal. We propose that the observed pattern of the distribution of genetic variation between buffalo populations at the regional level can be caused by fragmentation of a previous panmictic population due to human activity, and the continental level, reflects an effect of geographical distance between populations.
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