The impact of habitat loss and population fragmentation on genomic erosion

Pinto, Alessandro V., Hansson, Bengt, Patramanis, Ioannis, Morales, Hernán E. and van Oosterhout, Cock ORCID: (2024) The impact of habitat loss and population fragmentation on genomic erosion. Conservation Genetics, 25. pp. 49-57. ISSN 1566-0621

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Habitat loss and population fragmentation pose severe threats to biodiversity and the survival of many species. Population isolation and the decline in effective population size lead to increased genetic drift and inbreeding. In turn, this reduces neutral diversity, and it also affects the genetic load of deleterious mutations. Here, we analyse the effect of such genomic erosion by designing a spatially explicit, individual based model in SLiM, simulating the effects of the recorded habitat loss in Mauritius over the past ~ 250 years. We show that the loss of neutral diversity (genome-wide heterozygosity) was barely noticeable during the first 100 years of habitat loss. Changes to the genetic load took even more time to register, and they only became apparent circa 200 years after the start of habitat decline. Although a considerable number of deleterious mutations were lost by drift, others increased in frequency. The masked load was thus converted into a realised load, which compromised individual fitness and population viability after much of the native habitat had been lost. Importantly, genomic erosion continued after the metapopulation had stabilised at low numbers. Our study shows that historic habitat loss can pose a sustained threat to populations also in future generations, even without further habitat loss. The UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration needs to lead to transformative change to save species from future extinction, and this requires the urgent restoration of natural habitats.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: We are grateful to Shyam Gopalakrishnan for input during the code early development, and to Lara Urban for advice and comments on an early version of the draft. We are also grateful to the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation (MWF). CVO is funded by the Earth and Life Sciences Alliance (ELSA), and an International Collaboration Awards (2020) (Ref.: ICA\R1\201194). BH is funded by The Swedish Research Council (Consolidator Grant No.: 2016-00689). HEM was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant (840519) and it is currently funded by the ERC (ERODE, 101078303). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them. Publisher Copyright: © 2023, The Author(s).
Uncontrolled Keywords: genomic erosion,global biodiversity framework,habitat loss,mutation load,spatial simulation,ecology, evolution, behavior and systematics,genetics ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1100/1105
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 07 May 2024 09:32
Last Modified: 07 May 2024 09:32
DOI: 10.1007/s10592-023-01548-9


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