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Title: Molecular ecology and conservation genetics of the Leisler's bat (Nyctalus leisleri) in Ireland.
Author: Boston, Emma Sarah Margaret
ISNI:       0000 0001 3471 4798
Awarding Body: Queen's University of Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2008
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Across most of the range of Leisler's bat (Nyctalus leislen) it is rare and considered vulnerable but, in Ireland, its European stronghold, it is considered of international conservation importance. Using molecular data from mtDNA and nuclear markers, this thesis examines the taxonomy, phylogeography, population genetic structure and mating system of N.leisleri throughout its range while focusing on Irish populations. Novel sequencing data for mtDNA control regions were generated for 64 specimens from Ireland and 36 from elsewhere and analysed with available sequence information N. azoream, N. I. verrucosus, and N. leisleri. 52 mtDNA haplotypes were divided into two divergent mtDNA lineages (2% sequence divergence, four fixed mutations). One lineage (Azorean) comprised haplotypes restricted to the Azores, Ireland and Britain; the second lineage (European) comprised haplotypes found throughout continental Europe. Unique European haplotypes in Ireland and Britain do not occur in the rest of continental Europe. Thus, Ireland constitutes a zone of secondary contact between two mtDNA lineages that evolved independently in separate refugia during the last glacial maxima. Some degree of genetic exchange has taken place between these lineages, most Iikely1 0,000 to 20,000 years ago. Current gene flow among the Azores, Ireland, Britain, and the European mainland, is virtually non-existent. . While species status remains debatable, N. azoreum and N. leisleri populations from the Azores, British Islands, and European mainland, comprise three distinct evolutionary lineages with very limited interaction Le. speciation is in progress. Thus, they represent three evolutionarily significant units from a conservation and management perspective. Eleven species specific microsatellite loci, developed for N. leisleri, were used independently or in combination with mtDNA data, to examine population structure and mating. Genetic population differences were found between mainland European and Irish nursery colonies confirming that gene flow does not occur, and N. leisleri do not undertake the largescale migrations between summer and winter roosts characteristic of populations in continental Europe. Within local regions, however, there is considerable gene flow among nursery colonies such that these are likely to constitute a population network or metapopulation. Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA discordance suggests that gene flow is male biased, with females showing natal philopatry. Within nursery roosts, overall relatedness was low for adult females and juveniles (both sexes). This low level of relatedness is likely due to low fecundity and a highly promiscuous mating system with no male dominance. ThUS, inbreeding is rare. This study has important implications for the conservation and management of N. leisleri. It highlights the importance of Irish populations of N. leisleri and its unique evolutionary history. Protection of Irish populations of this species should be a high priority. Supplied by The British Library - 'The world's knowledge'
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available