Population genetics of rhinoceros auklets throughout the North Pacific Ocean

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Prill, Marie M.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : Universtiy of Lethbridge, Department of Biological Sciences
Levels of gene flow among populations have a critical role in evolution and are affected by geographic, ecological, and behavioural barriers. Reductions in gene flow lead to population genetic structure. Seabirds have high potential for gene flow but, can show spatial genetic structure. Using molecular techniques, I examined levels of population genetic structure in rhinoceros auklets. I examined 424 individuals from 18 breeding colonies from Japan to California. Results from ten microsatellite markers showed significant genetic differentiation among and between North Pacific Ocean metapopulations. Isolation by distance, foraging segregation, site fidelity, oceanic conditions, and divergent breeding times are suggested to promote genetic differentiation for rhinoceros auklets. Using a population genetic approach, I tested if assignment tests could identify the genetic origin of rhinoceros auklets found at sea. From 124 birds of the eastern North Pacific Ocean, our research indicates assignment tests are limited with the current set of microsatellites.
gene flow barriers , genetic differentiation , molecular markers , movement barriers , rhinoceros auklets , seascape genetics , Dissertations, Academic