Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 11, pp 1409–1420 | Cite as

Phylogeographic origin and genetic diversity of dunlin Calidris alpina in Svalbard

  • Gunnhild MarthinsenEmail author
  • Liv Wennerberg
  • Elin P. Pierce
  • Jan T. Lifjeld
Original Paper


We investigated the genetic structure of the presumably small (10–100 pairs) and isolated dunlin (Calidris alpina) population breeding in Svalbard, and compared it with similar data recently published from several dunlin populations in the western Palearctic and East Greenland. Using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers, as well as data on bill lengths, we sought to infer the phylogeographic origin of Svalbard dunlins and assess their within-population level of genetic diversity. Only dunlins with haplotypes of the European mtDNA clade (EUR) were found in Svalbard, indicating a close resemblance to dunlin populations in East Greenland and Iceland. Microsatellite data for Svalbard dunlins, as well as their short bills, also supported a western origin. The Svalbard population did not show signs of inbreeding or reduced levels of genetic diversity compared to other investigated populations, which suggests that the population was recently founded or is currently subject to considerable gene flow.


AFLP Microsatellites mtDNA Population genetics Taxonomy VLDLR-9 Z-chromosome intron 



This study was supported by a Strategic University Program (National Centre for Biosystematics, NCB) from the Research Council of Norway, (GM), the Swedish Polar Research Institute (LW), Oscar och Lily Lamms Stiftelse (LW), Nils Olof Berggrens fond (LW), Fysiografiska Sällskapet (LW), Per Westlins minnesfond (LW) and Alvins fond (LW). Data from Zackenberg were provided by BioBasis, National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark. We very much thank D. Blomqvist, T. Breiehagen, J. Elts, A. Folvik, J. Hansen, N. Holmgren, L. E. Johannessen, P.E. Jönsson, J. Kirkebø, K. Larsson, S. Newton, M. Ojanen, C. Persson, B. Rösner, H.-U. Rösner, M. Soloviev, P. Tomkovich, T. von Schantz and many more that helped to collect samples and gave valuable contributions to many aspects of the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gunnhild Marthinsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Liv Wennerberg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elin P. Pierce
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jan T. Lifjeld
    • 1
  1. 1.National Centre for BiosystematicsNatural History Museum, University of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Buskerud fylkeskommuneFylkeshusetDrammenNorway
  3. 3.Ecology DepartmentMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA

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