Volume 81 (2006) Issue 2 Pages 115-127
The Colombian jaguar population is thought to contain two different subspecies, Panthera onca centralis and Panthera onca onca. The genetic structure of this population was evaluated using 12 microsatellite loci (n = 62 samples). In addition, 22 jaguar DNA samples from Guatemala, Paraguay, Perú, Bolivia, Venezuela and Brazil were analyzed for these microsatellite loci (n = 84 samples). The results of this study indicate six primary themes. First, the levels of gene diversity were very high. Second, the majority of the loci analyzed showed an absence of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, probably due to the Wahlund effect (= population subdivision). Third, several microsatellite loci showed significant heterogeneity between the two supposed subspecies in the country. Nevertheless, gene flow was present between them, and heterogeneity was relatively low, although the assignment analyses showed good classification of the jaguars studied into their respective subspecies. Fourth, the long-term historical effective population sizes were calculated through a maximum likelihood procedure for single and multi-step mutation models. Fifth, seven out of twelve DNA microsatellites studied significantly deviated from a single-step mutation model. However, the overall mean multi-step mutation percentage for these 12 DNA microsatellites was only 6%. Therefore, 94% of mutations were uni-step. Sixth, no bottleneck events were detected in the Colombian jaguar population overall.