Landscape genetics of ungulates

Full title:

Using comparative landscape genetics to assess connectivity in fragmented landscapes and identify functional ecological networks


Habitat fragmentation has been recognised as one of the key threats to wildlife worldwide. Protected areas are usually considered to be the cornerstone of biological conservation as they are expected to represent the best areas available to ensure the persistence of biodiversity and thereby counteract the negative effects of fragmentation and habitat loss. However, existing protected areas, particularly in Europe, are often too small to maintain viable populations and it has been suggested that the interconnectivity of protected areas should be considered of the same importance as the sites themselves. Preserving, improving and restoring connectivity and movement corridors in fragmented landscapes are therefore essential elements in any conservation strategy. Recently, researchers have started to relate gene-flow patterns to landscape features in order to assess the extent to which landscape elements hinder or facilitate the movement of individuals. The main objective of this study is to use genetics-based resistance surfaces to perform rigorous landscape connectivity analyses in order to test how well regional sets of protected areas in Europe are integrated into functional ecological networks. While these landscape genetic approaches provide a key foundation for rigorous analysis of landscape resistance to movement, there are, however, a number of important basic questions related to optimal study design where additional research is needed to advance the field of landscape genetics and to make outputs for conservation planning more robust. Specifically, working on three mammal species, I want to (a) replicate species-specific landscape genetic analyses across multiple European study areas to test if the same landscape features are found to be influencing gene flow in different regions, (b) perform landscape genetic analyses on co-distributed species to test if the same landscape features are found to be influencing gene flow in different species in the same study area, (c) assess the influence of sample size on which landscape features are found the be influencing gene flow and (d) use the results from the landscape genetic analyses to derive empirically-validated movement corridors (for individual & multiple species) and to assess how well these are integrated into established protected area networks.

Status of Postdoc

Supervisor at university: Prof. Dr. Niko Balkenhol, Forest Zoology & Forest Conservation, University of Göttingen.

Supervisor in Luxembourg: Edmée Engel, curator, section zoologie des vertébrés, National Museum for Natural History, Luxembourg.

Postdoc granted by Fonds national de la recherche Luxembourg. Duration: 2 years (01.11.2012 – 31.10.2014).

Host institution: Fondation faune-flore @ Centre de recherche scientifique, Musée national d’histoire naturelle.


Alain Frantz
Musée national d’histoire naturelle
Centre de recherche scientifique
Section : zoologie des vertébrés
24, rue Münster
L-2160 Luxembourg
phone: (+352) 46 22 33 – 414
fax: (+352) 46 38 48

Publications and not published works

Peer-reviewed publications

  • Pérez-González, J., Frantz, A.C., Torres-Porras, J, Castillo L. & J. Carranza, 2012. Population structure, habitat features and genetic structure of managed red deer populations. European Journal of Wildlife Research DOI: 10.1007/s10344-012-0636-0
  • Frantz, A.C, Massei, G. & T. Burke, 2012. Genetic evidence for past hybridisation between domestic pigs and English wild boars. Conservation Genetics 13: 1355-1364.
  • Frantz, A.C., Bertouille, S., Eloy, M.C., Licoppe, A.,Chaumont, F. & M.C. Flamand, M.C., 2012. Comparative landscape genetic analyses show a Belgian motorway to be a gene flow barrier for red deer (Cervus elaphus), but not wild boars (Sus scrofa). Molecular Ecology 21: 3445-3457.
  • Raisin, C., Frantz, A.C., Kundu, S., Greenwood, A., Jones, C.G., Zuel, N. & J.J. Groombridge, in press. Genetic consequences of intensive conservation management for the Mauritius parakeet. Conservation Genetics 13: 707-715.
  • Dellicour, S., Frantz, A.C., Colyn, M., Bertouille, S., Chaumont, F. & M.C. Flamand, 2011. Population structure and genetic diversity of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in forest fragments in north-western France. Conservation Genetics 12: 1287-1297.
  • Balestrieri, A., Remonti, L., Frantz, A.C., Capelli, E., Zenato, M., Dettori, E.E., Guidali, F & C. Prigioni, 2010. Efficacy of passive hair-traps for the genetic sampling of a low-density badger population. Hystrix 21: 137-146.
  • Frantz, A.C., Do Linh San, E., Pope, L.C. & T. Burke, 2010. Using genetic methods to investigate dispersal in two badger (Meles meles) populations with different ecological characteristics. Heredity 104: 493-501.
  • Frantz, A.C., Pope, L.C., Etherington, T.R., Wilson, G.J. & T Burke, 2010. Using isolation-by-distance-based approaches to assess the barrier effect of linear landscape elements on badger (Meles meles) dispersal. Molecular Ecology 19: 1663-1674.
  • Bourke, B.P., Frantz, A.C., Lavers, C.P., Davison, A., Dawson, D.A. & T.A. Burke, 2010. Genetic signatures of population change in the British golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Conservation Genetics 11: 1837-1846.
  • Jan, C.M.I., Frith, K., Glover, A.M., Butlin, R.K., Scott, C.D., Greenaway, F., Ruedi, M., Frantz, A.C., Dawson, D.A. & J.D. Altringham, 2010. Myotis alcathoe in the UK. Acta Chiropterologica 12: 471-483.
  • Frantz, A.C., Schley, L., Schaul, M., Balestrieri, A. & T.J. Roper, 2010. Spatial organisation of badgers (Meles meles) in a medium-density population in Luxembourg. Hystrix 21: 3-18.
  • Guillot, G., Leblois, R., Coulon, A. & A.C. Frantz, 2009. Statistical methods in spatial genetics. Molecular Ecology 18: 4734-4756.
  • Frantz, A.C., Proess, R., Burke, T. & L. Schley, 2009. A genetic assessment of the two remnant populations of the natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) in Luxembourg. Herpetological Journal 19: 53-59.
  • Wright, J.A., Barker, R.J., Schofield, M.R., Frantz, A.C., Byrom, A.E. & D.M. Gleeson, 2009. Incorporating genotype uncertainty into mark-recapture-type models for estimating abundance using DNA samples. Biometrics: 65, 833-840.
  • Evans, K.L., Gaston, K.J., Frantz, A.C., Simeoni, M., Sharp, S.P., McGowan, A., Dawson, D.A., Walasz, K., Partecke, J., Burke, T. & B.J. Hatchwell, 2009. Independent colonization of multiple urban centres by a formerly forest specialist bird species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 2403-2410.
  • Frantz, A.C., Cellina, S., Krier, A., Schley, L. & T. Burke (2009) Using spatial Bayesian methods to determine the genetic structure of a continuously distributed population: clusters or isolation by distance? Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 493-505.
  • Schley, L., Dufrêne, M., Krier, A. & A.C. Frantz, 2008. Patterns of crop damage by wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Luxembourg over a 10-year period. European Journal of Wildlife Research 54: 589-599.
  • Huck, M., Frantz, A.C., Dawson, D.A., Burke, T. & T.J. Roper, 2008. Low genetic variability, female-biased dispersal and high movement rates in an urban population of badgers. Journal of Animal Ecology 77: 905-915.
  • Frantz, A.C., Hamann, J.-L. & F. Klein, 2008. Fine-scale genetic structure of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in a French temperate forest. European Journal of Wildlife Research 54: 44-52.
  • Scheppers, T.L.J., Frantz, A.C., Schaul, M., Engel, E., Breyne, P., Schley, L. & T.J. Roper, 2007. Estimating social group size of Eurasian badgers by genotyping remotely plucked single hairs. Wildlife Biology 13: 195-207.
  • Frantz, A.C., Tigel Pourtois, J., Heuertz, M., Schley, L., Flamand, M.C., Krier, A., Bertouille, S., Chaumont, F. & T. Burke, 2006. Genetic structure and assignment tests demonstrate illegal translocation of red deer (Cervus elaphus) into a continuous population. Molecular Ecology 15: 3191-3203.
  • Frantz, A.C. & T.J. Roper, 2006. Simulations to assess the performance of different rarefaction methods in estimating population size using small datasets. Conservation Genetics 7: 315-318.
  • Frantz, A.C., Fack, F., Muller, C.P. & T.J. Roper, 2006. Faecal DNA typing as a tool for investigating territorial behaviour of badgers (Meles meles). European Journal of Wildlife Research 52: 138-141.
  • Frantz, A.C., Cyriacks, P. & L. Schley, 2005. Spatial behaviour of a female raccoon (Procyon lotor) at the edge of the species’ European distribution range. European Journal of Wildlife Research 51: 126-130.
  • Frantz, A.C., Schaul, M., Pope, L.C., Fack, F., Schley, L., Muller, C.P. & T.J. Roper, 2004. Estimating population size by genotyping remotely plucked hair: the Eurasian badger. Journal of Applied Ecology 41: 985-995.
  • Pocock, M.J.O., Frantz, A.C., Cowan, D.P., White, P.C.L. & J.B. Searle, 2004. Tapering bias inherent in minimum number alive (MNA) population indices. Journal of Mammalogy 85: 959-962.
  • Frantz, A.C., Pope, L.C., Carpenter, P.J., Roper, T.J., Wilson, G.J., Delahay, R.J. & T. Burke, 2003. Reliable microsatellite genotyping of the Eurasian badger (Meles meles) using faecal DNA. Molecular Ecology 12: 1649-1661.
  • Wilson, G.J., Frantz, A.C., Pope, L.C., Roper, T.J., Burke, T.A., Cheeseman, C.L. & R.J. Delahay, 2003. Estimation of badger abundance using faecal DNA typing. Journal of Applied Ecology 40: 658-666.

Other publications

  • Frantz, A.C. & A. Krier, 2007. Further evidence for illegal translocation of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Luxembourg. Beiträge zur Jagd- und Wildforschung 32: 339-344.
  • Frantz, A.C., 2004. Non-Invasive Genetic Typing in the Study of Badger (Meles meles) Ecology. DPhil Thesis, University of Sussex, UK. [PDF 6MB]

Talks and poster presentations in 2011

  • Frantz, A.C., Zachos, F.E., Šprem, N., Kühn, R., Skog, A., Colyn, M., Chaumont, F. & M.C. Flamand, 2011. Identification of illegally introduced deer and their source populations: a European perspective. Vortrag zum VIth European Congress of Mammalogy, Paris, 07/2011.
  • Frantz, A.C., Massei, G. & T. Burke, 2011. Genetic evidence for past hybridisation between illegally reintroduced English wild boar and domestic pigs. Poster zum 13th Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Tübingen, 08/2011.
  • Frantz, A.C., Zachos, F.E., Šprem, N., Kühn, R., Skog, A., Colyn, M., Chaumont, F. & M.C. Flamand, 2011. Identification of illegally introduced deer and their source populations: a European perspective. Vortrag zur 8th International Conference on Behaviour, Physiology and Genetics of Wildlife, Berlin, 09/2011.
  • Frantz, A.C.: Genes in the landscape: potential and pitfalls of statistical methods in spatial genetics. Vortrag zum 19th International Symposium Animal Science Days, Primošten, 09/2011.
  • Frantz, A.C., Bertouille, S., Eloy, M.C., Prévot, C.,Licoppe, A. & M.C. Flamand, 2011. Comparative landscape genetics of two ungulate species: does sample size affect the outcome of clustering methods? Vortrag zur International Conference in Landscape Genetics. Białowieża, 10/2011.
  • Frantz, A.C., Bertouille, S., Eloy, M.C., Prévot, C.,Licoppe, A. & M.C. Flamand: Comparative landscape genetics of two ungulate species: does sample size affect the outcome of clustering methods? Vortrag zur Tagung der Vereinigung der Wildbiologen und Jagdwissenschaftler Deutschlands (VWJD), Freising, 10/2011.