Original Articles

Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor populations in eastern and southern Africa are not genetically isolated


A preliminary analysis of the phylogeographic pattern of the two main African populations of Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor from East and southern Africa was carried out to evaluate possible gene flow. A fragment of mitochondrial DNA encoding the NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 gene (ND2) was sequenced in 27 specimens from these two populations and 11 haplotypes were identified. The phylogenetic analyses, based both on distance and parsimonious methods (neighbour joining and maximum parsimony), showed a homogeneous clade with a low level of genetic distance (0.26% ± 0.12 SD), which was also evidenced by the minimum spanning network method. The mismatch distribution analysis suggested a sudden demographic expansion from a single ancestral population. This latter result is also reinforced by the presence of few ancestral haplotypes, by the high level of haplotype diversity (0.83) and the low level of nucleotide diversity (0.0015–0.0017). These data support the belief of field ornithologists for restricted interchange between the two populations determined by the geographical distance between the two populations and lack of any observations of movement between them, but with evidence of changes in each population's numbers, giving the concept of a permeable geographic barrier.

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