Conservation Genetics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 331–345 | Cite as

Population structure and gene flow in the endangered southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus obesulus) across a fragmented landscape

  • You Li
  • Melanie L. Lancaster
  • Steven J. B. Cooper
  • Andrea C. Taylor
  • Susan M. Carthew
Research Article


Habitat destruction is one of the leading threats to biodiversity. It results in the contraction and fragmentation of species’ distributions, enhancing the potential for extinction through the isolation of species in small populations. For conservation of threatened species, it is important to assess how fragmentation influences genetic connectivity of populations. The latter is dependent on the biology of individual species and the nature of the intervening matrix. In this study, we investigated genetic connectivity for an endangered marsupial, the southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus obesulus) from a fragmented forest system in south-east South Australia. We genotyped 15 microsatellite loci from 147 samples collected from 14 native forest patches, each surrounded by a matrix of either Pinus radiata plantation or cleared agricultural land. Our results showed significant population genetic structuring at a fine spatial scale in the 520 km2 Mount Burr region, with samples grouping into three population clusters. Evidence for dispersal among habitat patches was limited and dispersal generally only occurred among neighbouring patches. Overall, the genetic structuring we have observed is likely to have resulted from fragmentation of the landscape. Our findings contribute crucial information for the physical positioning of habitat corridors in this area, and provide baseline data to enable the effectiveness of these corridors to be assessed in the future.


Dispersal Genetic management Habitat fragmentation Population connectivity Threatened species 



We would like to thank Bo Li, Amanda McLean, Jasmin Packer, Peter Hatcliffe, Clive Carlyle and Catherine Carlyle, Janet Tan, Samuel Clarke, Kyle Holland, Jess Rowe, Jamie Kohler, Paula Bertsch, Nathan Stavridis, Amy White, Andrew Wiewel, Inta Chambers, Anthony Hay, Toni Bellingham, Orazio Cultreri, and Ben Stevenson and Michelle Le Duff from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) for their excellent field assistance and Nicholas Fuller for his assistance with data processing. We also thank Troy Horn, Bryan Haywood and Robert Mengler from ForestrySA for their advice and assistance. Sample collections were performed under the University of Adelaide Animal Ethics Committee (project number S-2011-041) and Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) permit to undertake scientific research (permit number G23771-13). We thank three anonymous reviewers, the associate editor Aaron Shafer and Bill Sherwin for critical comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant (LP0668987), Native Vegetation Council, Wildlife Conservation Fund, and The Roy and Marjory Edwards Scholarship provided by Nature Foundation SA.

Supplementary material

10592_2014_661_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • You Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • Melanie L. Lancaster
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Steven J. B. Cooper
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Andrea C. Taylor
    • 5
  • Susan M. Carthew
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and BiodiversityThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Healesville SanctuaryHealesvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Evolutionary Biology UnitSouth Australian MuseumAdelaideAustralia
  5. 5.School of Biological SciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  6. 6.Research Institute for Environment and LivelihoodsCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia
  7. 7.LanzhouChina

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