Habitat loss and fragmentation due to urbanisation can negatively affect metapopulation persistence when gene flow among populations is reduced and population sizes decrease. Inference of patterns and processes of population connectivity derived from spatial genetic analysis has proven invaluable for conservation and management. However, a more complete account of population dynamics may be obtained by combining spatial and temporal sampling. We, therefore, performed a genetic study on European stag beetle (Lucanus cervus L.) populations in a suburban context using samples collected in three locations and during the period 2002-2016. The sampling area has seen recent landscape changes which resulted in population declines. Through the use of a suite of FST, clustering analysis, individual assignment, and relatedness analysis we assessed fine scale spatiotemporal genetic variation within and among habitat patches using 283 individuals successfully genotyped at 17 microsatellites. Our findings suggested the three locations to hold demographically independent populations, at least over time scales of relevance to conservation, though with higher levels of gene flow in the past. Contrary to expectation from tagging studies, dispersal appeared to be mainly female-biased. Although the life cycle of stag beetle suggests its generations to be discrete, no clear temporal structure was identified, which could be attributed to the varying duration of larval development. Since population bottlenecks were detected and estimates of effective number of breeders were low, conservation actions are eminent which should include the establishment of suitable dead wood for oviposition on both local and regional scales to increase (re)colonisation success and connectivity among current populations.
|Date made available
|24 Jun 2021