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Phylogeographic-based conservation implications for the New Zealand long-tailed bat, (Chalinolobus tuberculatus): identification of a single ESU and a candidate population for genetic rescue

Dool, Serena E., O’Donnell, Colin F. J., Monks, Joanne M., Puechmaille, Sebastien J., Kerth, Gerald
Conservation genetics 2016 v.17 no.5 pp. 1067-1079
Chiroptera, biogeography, coasts, crystal proteins, deforestation, extinction, genetic recombination, genetic rescue, genetic variation, humans, indigenous species, islands, microsatellite repeats, mitochondria, nuclear genome, pest control, population dynamics, predators, threatened species, New Zealand
The New Zealand long-tailed bat (Chalinolobus tuberculatus) is an endemic species threatened with extinction. Since the arrival of humans, massive deforestation has occurred and invasive mammalian predators were introduced. As a result, C. tuberculatus’ distribution shrank dramatically and became fragmented. To aid the management of the remaining populations, two Evolutionary Significant Units (ESUs) were designated: one on each of New Zealand’s main islands. We utilised mitochondrial sequence data (cytb, 703 bp) and 10 nuclear DNA microsatellite loci to reconstruct the demographic history of this species, to characterise the level of genetic diversity in remaining populations, and to assess the current connectivity between them. Our results indicate that the North Island, with the highest genetic diversity, served as a glacial refuge, with a loss of diversity following the path recolonization to the south of the South Island. However, our data are also consistent with continued, or at least very recent, genetic exchange between colonies across the species distribution. The only exception is the Hanging Rock colony on the east coast of the South Island, which appears to be isolated. Thus, there was no support for the previously designated ESUs. Signatures of past population declines were found in three colonies, the most extreme of which was found in Hanging Rock. Consequently, we recommend that it be genetically rescued via translocation from a donor population. In general, future management priorities should treat Chalinolobus tuberculatus as a single unit, focusing on maintaining connectivity between remaining populations, together with continued roost protection and pest control.