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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Allemagne → 2014 → The phylogeny of the genus Gazella and the phylogeography and population genetics of arabian species

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Univ. (2014)

The phylogeny of the genus Gazella and the phylogeography and population genetics of arabian species

Hannes Lerp

Titre : The phylogeny of the genus Gazella and the phylogeography and population genetics of arabian species

Auteur : Hannes Lerp

Université de soutenance : Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Univ.

Grade : Doctoral Thesis (2014)

Résumé partiel
Biodiversity is caused by a fundamental evolutionary process : speciation. When species can spread into new habitats and are allowed to colonize new ecological niches, speciation can become accelerated and is then called radiation. This can happen, e.g., when formerly separated land masses become connected. A prime example of such a scenario is the Arabian Peninsula that connects Africa and Asia since the Oligocene (approx. 30 Ma ago). Since then, the peninsula promoted several faunal exchanges between both continents. The mammalian genus Gazella is an excellent candidate for investigating this faunal exchange. Species are distributed on both, the African and Asian continent as well as on the Arabian Peninsula that is located in between. The aim of my thesis was to cast new light on the evolution and speciation of the genus and, furthermore, to evaluate the currently problematic taxonomy to infer suggestions for improved conservation actions for threatened gazelle species. Therefore, I investigated the taxon Gazella genetically and identified factors that promoted the speciation of this diverse genus. I assessed intraspecific genetic variability for species that inhabited the Arabian Peninsula to infer the past demography of those species and to estimate the history of species divergence and past population parameters. In the first part of my thesis I inferred a mitochondrial phylogeny based on cytochrome b gene sequences using samples of all nine extant species of Gazella and also of closely related taxa (chapter 2). Besides the monophyly of the genus Gazella two reciprocally monophyletic clades were detected that evolved in allopatry : one predominantly African and one predominantly Asian clade. Within both clades species pairs could be inferred with species being ecologically adapted to different habitats : one species is a desert-dweller (probably the ancestral character state combination), while the other one is adapted to rather mountainous and humid habitats. These adaptations also correlate with the behavior of the species with the mountainous forms being sedentary, territorial and living in small groups and the desert forms being migratory, non-territorial and living in larger herds. The second part of my thesis focuses on the Arabian gazelle species. In a study about G. subgutturosa I could show that the Arabian form G. marica (sand gazelle)—previously recognized as a subspecies of G. subgutturosa—is genetically distinct from the nominate form (chapter 3). Moreover, a phylogenetic tree based on cytochrome b gene sequences revealed a polyphyly of G. subgutturosa and G. marica with sand gazelles being more closely related to G. leptoceros and G. cuvieri of North Africa. Consequently, I suggested the restoration to full species level for G. marica corroborating earlier conservation practices of breeding both taxa separately in captivity.

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Page publiée le 10 juillet 2014, mise à jour le 2 janvier 2019