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Conservation Genetics

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1435–1446 | Cite as

Genetically effective population sizes of Antarctic seals estimated from nuclear genes

  • Caitlin Curtis
  • Brent S. Stewart
  • Stephen A. Karl
Research Article

Abstract

We analyzed eight nuclear microsatellite loci in three species of Antarctic seals; Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii; mean N = 163), crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophaga; 138) and Ross seal (Ommatophoca rossii; 35). We estimated genetic diversity (Θ) and effective population size (N E) for each species. Autosomal microsatellite based N E estimates were 151,200 for Weddell seals, 880,200 for crabeater seals, and 254,500 for Ross seals. We screened one X-linked microsatellite (Lw18), which yielded similar N E estimates to the autosomal loci for all species except the Ross seals, where it was considerably larger (~103 times). Microsatellite N E estimates were comparable with previously published N E estimates from mitochondrial DNA, but both are substantially lower than direct estimates of population size in all species except the Ross seals. The ratio of maternally versus biparentally derived estimates of N E for Ross seals was not consistent with the hypothesis that they are a polygynous species. We found no sign of a recent, sustained genetic bottleneck in any of the species.

Keywords

Leptonychotes weddellii Lobodon carcinophaga Ommatophoca rossii Theta Microsatellite Phocid carnivore 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was funded by an American Museum of Natural History Lerner-Gray grant to CC, NSF OPP 98-16011 and OPP 98-16035 grants to BSS, and NSF DEB 98-06905 and DEB 03-21924 grants to SAK. Much of the research was conducted in the Department of Biology, University of South Florida (Tampa, FL, USA) in partial fulfillment of the doctoral research of CC. We thank H. Xu for generously providing statistical analysis software and four anonymous reviewers for critical comments. Part of this work was carried out by using the resources of the Computational Biology Service Unit from Cornell University, which is partially funded by Microsoft Corporation. This research was authorized by research permits 976 under the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act and 2000–2001 under The United States Antarctic Conservation Act and was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, which is registered as a Research Facility with the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This is SOEST contribution No. 8210 and HIMB contribution No. 1453.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caitlin Curtis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Brent S. Stewart
    • 3
  • Stephen A. Karl
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biology, SCA 110University of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Florida Fish and Wildlife Research InstituteSt. PetersburgUSA
  3. 3.Hubbs-SeaWorld Research InstituteSan DiegoUSA
  4. 4.Hawai`i Institute of Marine BiologyUniversity of Hawai`i at MānoaKane`oheUSA

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