Migration in European bat populations: Estimating genetic relationships between French and Spanish populations of the endangered Greater Noctule Bat Nyctalus lasiopterus, 2018

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As part of an initiative project for the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats, a genetic study about the Greater Noctule (Nyctalus lasiopterus) has been conducted in the Evolutionary Department of Doñana Biological Station (LEM-EBD), led by C. Ibáñez. A Master student, Capucine Szilas – with the help of Javier Juste, researcher of the Bats Research Group, and Juan Luis García Mudarra, laboratory technician – has been taught how to extract, amplify and sequence DNA in order to analyse various samples and estimate the relationships between French and Spanish Greater Noctules populations. We wanted to explore the possibility that the Pyrenees mountains could form a geographical barrier to migration.

Mitochondrial DNA-based information has enabled us to study the gene diversity as neutral changes in the nucleotide composition (haplotypes) and its spatial structuring to reconstruct the historical relationships among populations. On the other hand, the study of microsatellites markers produced complementary information. The high variability in these markers yielded estimates of gene diversity and population structure that correspond to more recent events such as present gene flow between populations. In this way, the genetic population structure of N. lasiopterus in France and the relationships with the Iberian populations have been studied, as well as the Pyrenees role in the population structure.

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