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Widespread gene flow between oceans in a pelagic seabird species complex

Booth Jones, Katherine A., Nicoll, Malcolm A.C., Raisin, Claire, Dawson, Deborah A., Hipperson, Helen, Horsburgh, Gavin J., Groombridge, Jim J., Ismar, Stefanie M.H., Sweet, Paul, Jones, Carl G., and others. (2017) Widespread gene flow between oceans in a pelagic seabird species complex. Molecular Ecology, 26 (20). pp. 5716-5728. ISSN 0962-1083. E-ISSN 1365-294X. (doi:10.1111/mec.14330) (KAR id:63218)


Global-scale gene flow is an important concern in conservation biology as it has the potential to either increase or decrease genetic diversity in species and populations. Although many studies focus on the gene flow between different populations of a single species, the potential for gene flow and introgression between species is understudied, particularly in seabirds. The only well studied example of a mixed-species, hybridising population of petrels exists on Round Island, in the Indian Ocean. Previous research assumed that Round Island represents a point of secondary contact between Atlantic (Pterodroma arminjoniana) and Pacific species (P. neglecta and P. heraldica). This study uses microsatellite genotyping and tracking data to address the possibility of between-species hybridisation occurring outside the Indian Ocean. Dispersal and gene flow spanning three oceans was demonstrated between the species in this complex. Analysis of migration rates estimated using BAYESASS revealed unidirectional movement of petrels from the Atlantic and Pacific into the Indian Ocean. Conversely, STRUCTURE analysis revealed gene-flow between species of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with potential three-way hybrids occurring outside the Indian Ocean. Additionally, geolocation tracking of Round Island petrels revealed two individuals travelling to the Atlantic and Pacific. These results suggest that inter-specific hybrids in Pterodroma petrels are more common than was previously assumed. This study is the first of its kind to investigate gene flow between populations of closely related Procellariform species on a global scale, demonstrating the need for consideration of widespread migration and hybridisation in the conservation of threatened seabirds.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/mec.14330
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Jim Groombridge
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2017 15:12 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 22:39 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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