Expansion of desert habitats since the Pleistocene has resulted in the retreat of mesic flora and fauna to isolated mountaintops, or sky islands, in the Mojave Desert. Sky island populations have decreased in size, evolved in isolation, and diverged from each other genetically. In this study, populations of western fence lizards from six sky island populations in the Mojave Desert were sampled to determine if they have experienced a loss of genetic diversity and if they have differentiated from adjacent historically large populations. Phylogenetic and population structure analyses grouped all study populations into three distinct mtDNA clades: northwestern Mojave, southwestern Mojave, and eastern Mojave. The data suggest that the northwestern and southwestern Mojave sky island populations have undergone substantial population bottlenecks. It is expected that at least some of these western populations may go extinct due to loss of genetic diversity.
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 50/03M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Genetics, Conservation|
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