Extreme philopatry and genetic diversification at unprecedented scales in a seabird

Type Article
Date 2021-12
Language English
Author(s) Danckwerts D. K.1, 2, Humeau L.3, Pinet P.2, 4, 5, McQuaid C. D.1, Le Corre M2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Coastal Research Group, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa
2 : UMR ENTROPIE (Université de La Réunion, IRD, CNRS, IFREMER, Université de Nouvelle-Calédonie), 15 Avenue René Cassin, CS 92003, 97744, Saint Denis Cedex 9, Ile de La Réunion, France
3 : UMR PVBMT (Université de La Réunion, CIRAD), 15 Avenue René Cassin, CS 92003, 97744, Saint Denis Cecodex 9, Ile de La Réunion, France
4 : Parc National de La Réunion, LIFE+ Petrels, 258 rue de la République, 97431, Plaine des Palmistes, Ile de La Réunion, France
5 : Terres Australes Et Antarctique Françaises (TAAF), rue Gabriel Dejean, 97410, Saint-Pierre, Ile de La Réunion, France
Source Scientific Reports (2045-2322) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2021-12 , Vol. 11 , N. 1 , P. 6834 (12p.)
DOI 10.1038/s41598-021-86406-9
Abstract

Effective conservation requires maintenance of the processes underlying species divergence, as well as understanding species’ responses to episodic disturbances and long-term change. We explored genetic population structure at a previously unrecognized spatial scale in seabirds, focusing on fine-scale isolation between colonies, and identified two distinct genetic clusters of Barau’s Petrels (Pterodroma baraui) on Réunion Island (Indian Ocean) corresponding to the sampled breeding colonies separated by 5 km. This unexpected result was supported by long-term banding and was clearly linked to the species’ extreme philopatric tendencies, emphasizing the importance of philopatry as an intrinsic barrier to gene flow. This implies that loss of a single colony could result in the loss of genetic variation, impairing the species’ ability to adapt to threats in the long term. We anticipate that these findings will have a pivotal influence on seabird research and population management, focusing attention below the species level of taxonomic organization.

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