Phylogeographic differentiation of storm petrels (Hydrobates pelagicus) based on cytochrome b mitochondrial DNA variation
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We evaluated mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence variation in a 910 bp region of the cytochrome b gene of the storm petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus. Samples from birds collected from five populations in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea were investigated. Genetic differentiation within the Mediterranean basin was low but high in the Atlantic. Strong differences were noted between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean populations, confirming the distinction of the subspecies H. p. pelagicus and H. p. melitensis for the Atlantic and Mediterranean seabirds, respectively. Divergence between the two subspecies probably resulted from paleogeographic changes in the Strait of Gibraltar, which was likely the route used by H. pelagicus to invade the Mediterranean Sea. Current and past demography and ecology of the storm petrel is regarded as an explanation for the level of differentiation observed within each oceanic basin. We compare the phylogeographic pattern of the storm petrel to other seabirds that breed in the same regions.