Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 241–248 | Cite as

Divergence in an archipelago and its conservation consequences in Aleutian Island rock ptarmigan

  • Christin L. PruettEmail author
  • Tyler N. Turner
  • Carrie M. Topp
  • Sergey V. Zagrebelny
  • Kevin Winker
Research Article


The identification and assessment of island endemics is a conservation priority. We genotyped 115 rock ptarmigan from five insular populations in the Aleutian-Commander archipelago and two Alaska mainland populations to identify conservation units, assess genetic diversity and gene flow, and to determine whether populations have declined over time. We found four distinct populations that appear to be completely isolated and which correspond closely to recognized subspecies. The most geographically isolated populations also have the lowest genetic diversity. Three populations (Attu Island, Rat Islands, and Adak Island), which each experienced historic introductions of an exotic predator, showed genetic signals of declines, but the timing did not correspond with the introduction. We recommend management of each endemic group as a unique conservation unit.


Aleutian Islands Island endemic Genetic diversity Lagopus muta Rock ptarmigan 



This project was supported by the University of Alaska Museum, the National Geographic Society, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation (DEB-9981915), and an anonymous donor. Field and technical support were provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Coast Guard. We thank two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christin L. Pruett
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Tyler N. Turner
    • 1
  • Carrie M. Topp
    • 3
  • Sergey V. Zagrebelny
    • 4
  • Kevin Winker
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida Institute of TechnologyMelbourneUSA
  2. 2.University of Alaska MuseumFairbanksUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Arctic BiologyUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  4. 4.Commander State National Biosphere ReservateKamchatkaRussia

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