Combining genetic and demographic data for prioritizing conservation actions: insights from a threatened fish species

Authors

  • Ivan Paz-Vinas,

    Corresponding author
    1. UMR 5174 (EDB), UPS, Université de Toulouse, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex, France
    2. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Station d'Ecologie Expérimentale du CNRS à Moulis, Moulis, France
    • UMR5174 EDB (Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), École Nationale de Formation Agronomique (ENFA), Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse Cedex 4, France
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  • Lise Comte,

    1. UMR5174 EDB (Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), École Nationale de Formation Agronomique (ENFA), Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse Cedex 4, France
    2. UMR 5174 (EDB), UPS, Université de Toulouse, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex, France
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  • Mathieu Chevalier,

    1. UMR5174 EDB (Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), École Nationale de Formation Agronomique (ENFA), Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse Cedex 4, France
    2. UMR 5174 (EDB), UPS, Université de Toulouse, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex, France
    3. UMR 5245 EcoLab (Laboratoire Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement), CNRS, Toulouse, France
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  • Vincent Dubut,

    1. IMBE – UMR 7263, Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Marseille Cedex 3, France
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  • Charlotte Veyssiere,

    1. UMR5174 EDB (Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), École Nationale de Formation Agronomique (ENFA), Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse Cedex 4, France
    2. UMR 5174 (EDB), UPS, Université de Toulouse, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex, France
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  • Gaël Grenouillet,

    1. UMR5174 EDB (Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), École Nationale de Formation Agronomique (ENFA), Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse Cedex 4, France
    2. UMR 5174 (EDB), UPS, Université de Toulouse, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex, France
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  • Geraldine Loot,

    1. UMR 5174 (EDB), UPS, Université de Toulouse, 118 route de Narbonne, Toulouse Cedex, France
    2. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Station d'Ecologie Expérimentale du CNRS à Moulis, Moulis, France
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  • Simon Blanchet

    1. UMR5174 EDB (Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), École Nationale de Formation Agronomique (ENFA), Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse Cedex 4, France
    2. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Station d'Ecologie Expérimentale du CNRS à Moulis, Moulis, France
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Correspondence

Ivan Paz-Vinas, Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique (EDB), UMR 5174 (CNRS – UPS – ENFA), 118 route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse cedex 4, France. Tel: (+33) 5 61 55 67 47; Fax: (+33) 5 61 55 73 27; E-mail: ivanpaz23@gmail.com

Abstract

Prioritizing and making efficient conservation plans for threatened populations requires information at both evolutionary and ecological timescales. Nevertheless, few studies integrate multidisciplinary approaches, mainly because of the difficulty for conservationists to assess simultaneously the evolutionary and ecological status of populations. Here, we sought to demonstrate how combining genetic and demographic analyses allows prioritizing and initiating conservation plans. To do so, we combined snapshot microsatellite data and a 30-year-long demographic survey on a threatened freshwater fish species (Parachondrostoma toxostoma) at the river basin scale. Our results revealed low levels of genetic diversity and weak effective population sizes (<63 individuals) in all populations. We further detected severe bottlenecks dating back to the last centuries (200–800 years ago), which may explain the differentiation of certain populations. The demographic survey revealed a general decrease in the spatial distribution and abundance of P. toxostoma over the last three decades. We conclude that demo-genetic approaches are essential for (1) identifying populations for which both evolutionary and ecological extinction risks are high; and (2) proposing conservation plans targeted toward these at risk populations, and accounting for the evolutionary history of populations. We suggest that demo-genetic approaches should be the norm in conservation practices.

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