, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 419-430

The contribution of island populations to in situ genetic conservation

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Abstract

Genetic variation is often lower within island populations, however islands may also harbor divergent genetic variation. The likelihood that insular populations are genetically diverse or divergent should be influenced by island size and isolation. We tested this assumption by comparing patterns of genetic variation across all major island song sparrow populations along the Pacific North American coast. Allelic richness was moderately lowered even on islands which are close to large, potential sources. The most significant differences in allelic richness occurred on very small or highly remote islands. Gene diversity was significantly lower only on remote or very small islands. We found that island populations contribute to regional genetic variation through both the amount of genetic variation and the uniqueness of that variation. The partitioning of this contribution was associated with the size and isolation of the island populations.