The Island Night Lizard (Xantusia riversiana) is endemic to three of the Channel Islands off the coast of California, USA. Introduced species such as goats, sheep, and cats have profoundly affected the fauna and flora of the islands for over 150 years, but most of these non-native species have been recently removed. We measured the distribution of genetic diversity in Island Night Lizards across San Nicolas Island using DNA microsatellites to assess the impacts of historical habitat change on effective population size, gene flow, and population divergence; to provide baseline data for future monitoring of genetic diversity; and to provide recommendations to inform the restoration of degraded habitat. Despite a history of profound anthropogenic habitat disturbance, genetic diversity was high within sites, and there was no evidence of population bottlenecks. Divergence between sites was extraordinarily high, as expected for this sedentary species. Landscape resistance modeling using circuit theory showed that unsuitable habitat is relatively permeable to gene flow compared to suitable habitat, and yet populations separated by very short geographic distances remain genetically distinct. We found no evidence of a need for short-term intervention such as artificial translocations to maintain genetic diversity. Instead, we suggest that management should focus on maintaining, improving, and increasing habitat, especially in creating patches of habitat to link existing sites.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Rare long-distance dispersal of the Island Night Lizard, Xantusia riversiana, maintains high diversity in a fragmented environment|
|Series title||Conservation Genetics|
|Contributing office(s)||Southwest Biological Science Center, Western Ecological Research Center|
|Other Geospatial||San Nicolas Island|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|