, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 607-614
Date: 02 Dec 2005

Population genetic structure and conservation of marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus)

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Abstract

Marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) are coastal seabirds that nest from California to the Aleutian Islands. They are declining and considered threatened in several regions. We compared variation in the mitochondrial control region, four nuclear introns and three microsatellite loci among194 murrelets from throughout their range except Washington and Oregon. Significant population genetic structure was found: nine private control region haplotypes and three private intron alleles occurred at high frequency in the Aleutians and California; global estimates of F ST or ΦST and most pairwise estimates involving the Aleutians and/or California were significant; and marked isolation-by-distance was found. Given the available samples, murrelets appear to comprise five genetic management units: (1) western Aleutian Islands, (2) central Aleutian Islands, (3) mainland Alaska and British Columbia, (4) northern California, and (5) central California.