Carnivores frequently come into conflict with humans in agricultural and livestockproducing areas around the world. Understanding their fidelity and dispersal patterns in response to food availability is therefore important given the effort invested in conflict mitigation strategies. In this study, we investigated the influence of clumped and abundant sources of carrion on the genetic diversity of the black-backed jackal Canis mesomelas within six private game farms in the North-West and Gauteng provinces of South Africa. It is predicted that clumped and abundant sources of carrion will increase immigration and thus genetic diversity in the local subpopulation. By quantifying the variability in microsatellite loci in black-backed jackals subjected to artificially increased carrion availability, and comparing them with individuals from control sites, we were able to describe patterns of historic gene flow within the total sampled population. The results of this investigation indicate that clumped and abundant sources of carrion promote genetic structuring (FST = 0.0302) which implies a lack of gene flow and a degree of isolation. Genetic artefacts of three populations could be identified through Bayesian clustering analysis of individuals based on their genetic identity. Individuals sampled from the two supplementary feeding sites could be assigned to one of two ancestral populations with an average population assignment of 69 and 82%, while individuals from the remaining four control sites, originate from a third population with percentage assignments of 63%, 46%, 53% and 42%. It is therefore likely that clumped and abundant sources of carrion in the agricultural landscape of South Africa can affect the population dynamics of the black-backed jackal and result in subpopulations with limited migration and dispersal when compared with the total population.
Bibliographical noteThis is the peer reviewed version of the following article: James, R. S., Scott, D. M., Yarnell, R. W. and Overall, A. D. J. (2016), Food availability and population structure: How do clumped and abundant sources of carrion affect the genetic diversity of the black-backed jackal?. Journal of Zoology., which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/jzo.12407. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
- Black-backed jackal
- supplementary feeding
- non-invasive genetic sampling
- molecular ecology
- population genetics