Preliminary analysis of population genetics of Myotis punicus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in the maltese islands: implications for its conservation
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University of Malta
Publication date: 2010-08-26
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2010;21(1)
By combining cellulose acetate allozyme electrophoresis with a non-lethal sampling technique, it was possible to undertake a preliminary study of the population structure of Myotis punicus Felten, 1977 in the Maltese Islands. Since previous local ecological studies indicated declining numbers, it was considered important to undertake a combinatorial study including molecular genetic techniques. Twelve sites spread around the Maltese Islands were investigated and a total of 36 individuals found in four of these sites were sampled over a period of 6 months. The use of 4mm biopsy punches (a non-lethal method) was adopted to obtain tissue for analysis. Morphometric data was also collected involving measurements of forearm length, ear length, tragus length, wing-span and weight. Comparison of average values for these measurements between the sexes (using chi-square at p = 0.05) gave an indication of sexual dimorphism, with females being the larger sex. A recapture rate of 19% was achieved in this study. Nei’s (1978) Genetic Identity (I) showed values from 0.954 to 0.686, while Genetic Distance (D) values ranged from 0 to 0.047. The results obtained in this study indicate that the population on the Maltese Islands is as yet a single panmictic unit, even though the overall FST value of 0.272 indicates that these sites are approaching the threshold beyond which there will be isolated mating systems.

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