Genetic information on species can inform decision making regarding conservation of biodiversity since the response of organisms to changing environments depend, in part, on their genetic makeup. Territories of central-southern Chile and Argentina have undergone a varying degree of impact during the Quaternary, where the response of local fauna and flora was rather species-specific. Here, we focus on the sigmodontine rodent Abrothrix hirta, distributed from 35° S in Chile and Argentina to northern Tierra del Fuego. Based on 119,226 transcriptome-derived SNP loci from 46 individuals of A. hirta, we described the geographic distribution of the genetic diversity of this species using a maximum likelihood tree, principal component and admixture analyses. We also addressed the demographic history of the main intraspecific lineages of A. hirta using GADMA. We found that A. hirta exhibited four allopatric intraspecific lineages. Three main genetic groups were identified by a Principal Component Analysis and by Ancestry analysis. The demographic history of A. hirta was characterized by recent population stability for populations at the northernmost part of the range, while southern populations experienced a recent population expansion.


  • Decision making aimed to conserve biodiversity requires information on several aspects of the biological system to be protected

  • Pi values ranged between 0.01 and 0.12; oHet for individual loci ranged from 0 to 1, but the frequency of each value varied (Figure 2B) and the mean oHet decreased at higher latitudes (Supplementary Table 2)

  • As a result of our field work, here we extend the known distribution of the species toward the norther up Constitución, Maule Región include where it almost reaches the southern known locality of A. longipilis

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Decision making aimed to conserve biodiversity requires information on several aspects of the biological system to be protected. Genetic information can be key when conservation efforts are made to ensure the survival through time of natural populations and the processes in which they are involved (Supple and Shapiro, 2018). Given the uncertainty of future environmental conditions, as well as the lack of clear knowledge regarding the link between genes and phenotypes, it might be a safe bet to direct conservation efforts to ensure the preservation, when detected, of distinct intraspecific lineages (Moritz, 2002), in a geographic area where climatic fluctuations modeled current genetic features of the local fauna. The concept of Evolutionary Significant Units (ESU) and Management Units (MU) were early advanced with the aim of conserving the evolutionary heritage and current genetic structure of populations, respectively (Moritz, 1994) (see Ryder, 1986; Casacci et al, 2014). One of the main levels of Biodiversity is the genetic level, which emphasizes the need to preserve intraspecific lineages (Gaston and Spicer, 2004)


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