Research Article

Phylogeography of oribi antelope in South Africa: evolutionary versus anthropogenic panmixia

Published in: African Zoology
Volume 52, issue 4, 2017 , pages: 189–197
DOI: 10.1080/15627020.2017.1386077
Author(s): Bettine Jansen van VuurenCentre for Ecological Genomics and Wildlife Conservation, Department of Zoology, South Africa, Ian RushworthEcological Advice Division, Scientific Services, South Africa, Claudine MontgelardCentre for Ecological Genomics and Wildlife Conservation, Department of Zoology, South Africa


The increased rate of human-driven change is a major threat to biodiversity. Although there is sufficient evidence to suggest that species notably alter their ranges, facilitation of such movement for larger vertebrate species often places burdens on management agencies. Oribi antelope (Ourebia ourebi ourebi) in South Africa continue to experience dramatic decreases in range and numbers. Animals have and continue to be translocated for conservation, but also aesthetic and financial reasons. Initial translocations were done in the absence of any thought or understanding of genetic structure, while for the past two decades a conservative best-practice approach was adopted, but in the absence of any specific genetic information. Here, we use two mitochondrial and one nuclear fragment to report the phylogeographic structure in oribi antelope across South Africa. Our data indicate that the South African subspecies is distinct from other subspecies to the north, confirming that oribi in South Africa should be managed as a distinct conservation unit. Across the South African range, high genetic diversity is present with some evidence for genetic structure (phylogenetic trees and haplotype networks). However, there is no spatial component to the diversity (non-significant p-values in AMOVA analyses), possibly because of historic translocations. We evaluate translocation approaches currently in place, and make specific and general recommendations for future conservation management based on an improved understanding of population genetic diversity and genetic structure.

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