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Population decline is accompanied by loss of genetic diversity in the Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor

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The Lesser Grey Shrike has suffered successive declines in population size and a marked contraction of its breeding range since the early 20th century, largely because of long-term agricultural intensification. This has resulted in a severely fragmented distribution in Western Europe, with isolated breeding nuclei in Spain, France and Italy and a more continuous distribution in Eastern Europe and Asia. Using a combination of nuclear and mitochondrial markers, we assessed the genetic structure and diversity of Lesser Grey Shrike populations from Western Europe, Central Europe and Asia. There was significant genetic differentiation among three major regional groups, one European and two Asian. Genetic diversity measures were lowest in the smallest and most marginal Spanish population. Limited genetic diversity, combined with rapid population decline, suggests the Spanish population may face extinction in the near future.
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Keywords: endangered species; genetic structure; inbreeding; peripheral population; subspecies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland 2: Departamento de Ecología Funcional y Evolutiva, Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas (CSIC), Carretera de Sacramento s/n. 04120 La Cañada de San Urbano-Almería, Spain 3: Konrad Lorenz Institute for Comparative Ethology, Savoyenstrasse 1a, A-1160, Vienna, Austria 4: Institute of Forest Ecology (SAS), Stúrova 2, SK-960 53 Zvolen, Slovakia 5: Georgian Centre for the Conservation of Wildlife, PO Box 56, GE-Tbilisi 0160, Georgia 6: Birdlife Hungary, Költö u. 21., Budapest, H-1121, Hungary

Publication date: 01 January 2011

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