Intraspecific variation, sex-biased dispersal and phylogeography of the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)

K. R. Zenger*, M. D B Eldridge, D. W. Cooper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Genetic information has played an important role in the development of management units by focusing attention on the evolutionary properties and genetics of populations. Wildlife authorities cannot hope to manage species effectively without knowledge of geographical boundaries and demic structure. The present investigation provides an analysis of mitochondiral DNA and microsatellite data, which is used to infer both historical and contemporary patterns of population structuring and dispersal in the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) in Australia. The average level of genetic variation across sample locations was one of the highest observed for marsupials (h = 0.95, HE = 0.82). Contrary to ecological studies, both genic and genotypic analyses reveal weak genetic structure of populations, where high levels of dispersal may be inferred up to 230 km. The movement of individuals was predominantly male-biased (average Nem = 22.61, average N fm = 2.73). However, neither sex showed significant isolation by distance. On a continental scale, there was strong genetic differentiation and phylogeographic distinction between southern (TAS, VIC and NSW) and northern (QLD) populations, indicating a current and/or historical restriction of gene flow. In addition, it is evident that northern populations are historically more recent, and were derived from a small number of southern founders. Phylogenetic comparisons between M. g. giganteus and M. g. tasmaniensis indicated that the current taxonomic status of these subspecies should be revised as there was a lack of genetic differentiation between the populations sampled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2003

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