Genetic variability and population structure of the Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae) in the northern limit of its distribution

Eduardo Sánchez-Murrieta, Alberto Macías-Duarte*, Reyna A. Castillo-Gámez, Alejandro Varela-Romero, Angel B. Montoya, James H. Weaver, Nohelia G. Pacheco-Hoyos

*Autor correspondiente de este trabajo

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Restricted movement among populations decreases genetic variation, which may be the case for the Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae), a small game bird that rarely flies long distances. In the northern limit of its distribution, it inhabits oak-juniper-pine savannas of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Understanding genetic structure can provide information about the demographic history of populations that is also important for conservation and management. The objective of this study was to determine patterns of genetic variation in Montezuma quail populations using nine DNA microsatellite loci. We genotyped 119 individuals from four study populations: Arizona, Western New Mexico, Central New Mexico, and West Texas. Compared to other quail, heterozygosity was low (H-0 = 0.22 ± 0.04) and there were fewer alleles per locus (Ā = 2.41 ± 0.27). The global population genetic differentiation index RST = 0.045 suggests little genetic structure, even though a Bayesian allocation analysis suggested three genetic clusters (K = 3). This analysis also suggested admixture between clusters. Nevertheless, an isolation-by-distance analysis indicates a strong correlation (r = 0.937) and moderate evidence (P = 0.032) of non-independence between geographical and genetic distances. Climate change projections indicate an increase in aridity for this region, especially in temperate ecosystems where the species occurs. In this scenario, corridors between the populations may disappear, thus causing their complete isolation.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículoe16585
EstadoPublicada - 2023

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