ESR 12:249-261 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/esr00295

Projecting genetic diversity and population viability for the fragmented orang-utan population in the Kinabatangan floodplain, Sabah, Malaysia

Michael W. Bruford1,*, Marc Ancrenaz2, Lounès Chikhi3, Isabelle Lackman-Ancrenaz2, Mahedi Andau4,†, Laurentius Ambu4, Benoît Goossens

1School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3TL, UK
2Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project, Sukau, Sabah, Malaysia
3Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, UMR CNRS 5174, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France
4Sabah Wildlife Department, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
This paper is dedicated to the memory of Mahedi Andau

ABSTRACT: Genetic management of fragmented populations poses logistical and theoretical challenges to conservation managers. Simulating changes in genetic diversity and differentiation within and among fragmented population units under different management scenarios has until now rarely used molecular marker data collected from present-day populations. Here we examine the genetic implications of management options for the highly fragmented yet globally significant orang-utan population in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Sabah, Malaysia. We simulated the effects of non-intervention, translocation, corridor establishment and a mixture of the latter 2 approaches on future genetic diversity in this population using the stochastic simulation software VORTEX and a well-described molecular dataset for 200 individuals from within the Sanctuary. We found that non-intervention resulted in high extinction risks for a number of subpopulations over short demographic timescales (<5 generations). Furthermore, the exclusive use of either translocation or corridor establishment as a management tool was insufficient to prevent substantial levels of inbreeding using demographically and logistically feasible translocation rates and was insufficient to prevent inbreeding and extinction in the most isolated subpopulations using conservative corridor establishment rates. Instead, a combination of modest translocation rates (1 ind. every 20 yr) and corridor establishment enabled even the most isolated subpopulations to retain demographic stability and constrain localised inbreeding to levels below a threshold of 0.1. Our simulations suggest that this mixed management approach is both a pragmatic and potentially successful course of action and that this combination may be useful in other species and fragmented populations in the future. The use of present-day molecular data in stochastic simulations requires further development, but here we show that it can aid predictive modelling.

KEY WORDS: Population modeling · VORTEX · Orang-utan · Kinabatangan · Fragmentation · Genetic diversity

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Cite this article as: Bruford MW, Ancrenaz M, Chikhi L, Lackmann-Ancrenaz I, Andau M, Ambu L, Goossens B (2010) Projecting genetic diversity and population viability for the fragmented orang-utan population in the Kinabatangan floodplain, Sabah, Malaysia. Endang Species Res 12:249-261

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