A genome-wide data assessment of the African lion (Panthera leo) population genetic structure and diversity in Tanzania

Smitz Nathalie, Jouvenet Olivia, Ambwene Ligate Frederick, Crosmary William-George, Ikanda Dennis, Chardonnet Philippe, Fusari Alessandro, Meganck Kenny, Gillet François, Melletti Mario, Michaux Johan. 2018. A genome-wide data assessment of the African lion (Panthera leo) population genetic structure and diversity in Tanzania. PloS One, 13 (11):e0205395, 24 p.

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Thème(s) HCERES des revues (en SHS) : Psychologie-éthologie-ergonomie; Staps

Abstract : The African lion (Panthera leo), listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Appendix II of CITES), is mainly impacted by indiscriminate killing and prey base depletion. Additionally, habitat loss by land degradation and conversion has led to the isolation of some subpopulations, potentially decreasing gene flow and increasing inbreeding depression risks. Genetic drift resulting from weakened connectivity between strongholds can affect the genetic health of the species. In the present study, we investigated the evolutionary history of the species at different spatiotemporal scales. Therefore, the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (N = 128), 11 microsatellites (N = 103) and 9,103 SNPs (N = 66) were investigated in the present study, including a large sampling from Tanzania, which hosts the largest lion population among all African lion range countries. Our results add support that the species is structured into two lineages at the continental scale (West-Central vs East-Southern), underlining the importance of reviewing the taxonomic status of the African lion. Moreover, SNPs led to the identification of three lion clusters in Tanzania, whose geographical distributions are in the northern, southern and western regions. Furthermore, Tanzanian lion populations were shown to display good levels of genetic diversity with limited signs of inbreeding. However, their population sizes seem to have gradually decreased in recent decades. The highlighted Tanzanian African lion population genetic differentiation appears to have resulted from the combined effects of anthropogenic pressure and environmental/climatic factors, as further discussed.

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : République-Unie de Tanzanie

Classification Agris : L20 - Animal ecology
L10 - Animal genetics and breeding

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 6 (2014-2018) - Sociétés, natures et territoires

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Smitz Nathalie, Université de Liège (BEL)
  • Jouvenet Olivia, Université de Liège (BEL)
  • Ambwene Ligate Frederick, WDA (TZA)
  • Crosmary William-George, Fondation Internationale pour la Gestion de la Faune (FRA)
  • Ikanda Dennis, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TZA)
  • Chardonnet Philippe, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR ASTRE (FRA)
  • Fusari Alessandro, Fondation Internationale pour la Gestion de la Faune (FRA)
  • Meganck Kenny, Royal Museum for Central Africa (BEL)
  • Gillet François, Université de Liège (BEL)
  • Melletti Mario, African Buffalo Initiative Group (ITA)
  • Michaux Johan, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR ASTRE (FRA) - auteur correspondant

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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