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Human impact has contributed to the decline of the Eurasion lynx

Disentangling the contribution of long?term evolutionary processes and recent anthropogenic impacts to current genetic patterns of wildlife species is key to assessing genetic risks and designing conservation strategies. Eighty whole nuclear genomes and 96 mitogenomes from populations of the Eurasian lynx covering a range of conservation statuses, climatic zones and subspecies across Eurasia were used to infer the demographic history, reconstruct genetic patterns, and discuss the influence of long?term isolation and more recent human?driven changes. Results show that Eurasian lynx populations shared a common history until 100,000 years ago, when Asian and European populations started to diverge and both entered a period of continuous and widespread decline, with western populations, except Kirov (Russia), maintaining lower effective sizes than eastern populations. Population declines and increased isolation in more recent times probably drove the genetic differentiation between geographically and ecologically close westernmost European populations. By contrast, and despite the wide range of habitats covered, populations are quite homogeneous genetically across the Asian range, showing a pattern of isolation by distance and providing little genetic support for the several proposed subspecies. Mitogenomic and nuclear divergences and population declines starting during the Late Pleistocene can be mostly attributed to climatic fluctuations and early human influence, but the widespread and sustained decline since the Holocene is more probably the consequence of anthropogenic impacts which intensified in recent centuries, especially in western Europe. Genetic erosion in isolated European populations and lack of evidence for long?term isolation argue for the restoration of lost population connectivity between European and Asian poulations. informacion[at] Lucena-Perez et al (2020). Genomic patterns in the widespread Eurasian lynx shaped by Late Quaternary climatic fluctuations and anthropogenic impacts. MOL ECOL 29(4) DOI 10.1111/mec.15366
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Firebreaks constrain butterfly movements

Firebreaks constrain butterfly movements

Firebreaks are linear strips that dissect the landscape and prevent or mitigate the spread of wildfires in Mediterranean landscapes. However, few studies have addressed their potential effect on insect behavior. The lack of traffic and other human activities in firebreaks makes them suitable for testing the sole effect of physical habitat disruption on animal movement. Main objective was to evaluate whether the pattern of movement by a butterfly species was affected by this landscape element. Flight trajectories of the lycaenid butterfly Plebejus argus were reconstructed within and around one firebreak using visual and GPS tracking in Doñana National Park (southern Spain). Butterflies that were active at the firebreak boundary often refused to enter the firebreak and, when they did, most individuals returned before reaching the opposite side. Inside the firebreak faster and straighter trajectories were recorded than in adjacent scrubland areas. Butterflies that crossed the firebreak headed the most favorable direction to minimize the time spent within the habitat discontinuity. At the landscape scale, firebreak density increased in areas where P. argus habitat was more fragmented and had lower quality. In other studies, when firebreaks are mowed instead of ploughed, they appeared to be beneficial for butterflies. In contrast, in Doñana, barren firebreaks do not provide any valuable resource for P. argus and its environmental conditions probably entail considerable physiological stress. In sum, a narrow, open linear element lacking any human activity induces a marked change in the movement behavior of a butterfly species, with potential consequences on population dynamics at the landscape scale. Therefore, firebreaks used for protecting Mediterranean landscapes could have side effects on animal populations other than localized habitat loss due to mere vegetation removal. informacion[at] Fernández et al (2019) Firebreaks as a barrier to movement: the case of a butterfly in a Mediterranean landscape. J Insect Conserv DOI 10.1007/s10841-019-00175-5