Article: article from journal or magazin.
High connectivity in a long-lived High-Arctic seabird, the ivory gull Pagophila eburnea
Species may cope with rapid habitat changes by distribution shifts or adaptation to new conditions. A common feature of these responses is that they depend on how the process of dispersal connects populations, both demographically and genetically. We analyzed the genetic structure of a near-threatened high-Arctic seabird, the ivory gull (Pagophila eburnea) in order to infer the connectivity among gull colonies. We analyzed 343 individuals sampled from 16 localities across the circumpolar breeding range of ivory gulls, from northern Russia to the Canadian Arctic. To explore the roles of natal and breeding dispersal, we developed a population genetic model to relate dispersal behavior to the observed genetic structure of worldwide ivory gull populations. Our key finding is the striking genetic homogeneity of ivory gulls across their entire distribution range. The lack of population genetic structure found among colonies, in tandem with independent evidence of movement among colonies, suggests that ongoing effective dispersal is occurring across the Arctic Region. Our results contradict the dispersal patterns generally observed in seabirds where species movement capabilities are often not indicative of dispersal patterns. Model predictions show how natal and breeding dispersal may combine to shape the genetic homogeneity among ivory gull colonies separated by up to 2800 km. Although field data will be key to determine the role of dispersal for the demography of local colonies and refine the respective impacts of natal versus breeding dispersal, conservation planning needs to consider ivory gulls as a genetically homogeneous, Arctic-wide metapopulation effectively connected through dispersal.
Natal dispersal, Breeding dispersal, Effective number of breeders, Population genetic structure, Overlapping generation model
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