Are threatened seabird colonies of the pacific ocean genetically vulnerable? The case of the red-tailed tropicbird, Phaethon rubricauda, as a model species

Varela, Andrea, I; Brokordt, Katherina; Vianna, Juliana A.; Frugone, Maria Jose; Ismar-Rebitz, Stefanie M. H.; Gaskin, Chris P.; Carlile, Nicholas; O'Dwyer, Terence; Adams, Josh; Vanderwerf, Eric A.; Luna-Jorquera, Guillermo


Oceanic seabirds have suffered population declines and extirpations due to human disturbance and still face multiple threats. Here, we assessed the potential genetic vulnerability of the red-tailed tropicbird, Phaethon rubricauda, a seabird species threatened by human disturbance and listed as 'least concern' by the IUCN. Using Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) we evaluated the genetic population structure of the red-tailed tropicbird throughout the Pacific Ocean using samples from 132 individuals from six islands. We sampled individuals from islands without human-related disturbance (non-impacted islands) and with human-related disturbance (impacted islands). Results of genome-wide SNP analyses were consistent with previous results using mitochondrial DNA sequences analyses. Genetic diversity did not differ between impacted and non-impacted islands, and low inbreeding estimates were detected for all colonies. The SNPs analyses confirmed a pattern of isolation by distance and significant inter-regional (Chile, Australasia, and Hawai'i) genetic structure, but revealed greater differentiation of tropicbirds in Hawai'i compared with Chile and Australasia. Within regions, our results further indicated significant differentiation between Rapa Nui and Salas & G & oacute;mez Island (Chile), and between Meyer and Phillip islands (Australasia) that was not detected using mitochondrial DNA analyses. Within Hawai'i, we found a lack of significant genetic differentiation between O'ahu and Kaua'i, separated by 200 km. Our findings indicated that red-tailed tropicbird colonies are at genetic risk due to limited dispersal among colonies which may reduce the fitness of the species in the long-term. We suggest that red-tailed tropicbird colonies are vulnerable to future population declines because recovery through immigration from other islands may be limited by geographic distance. Conservation actions will help preserve genetic diversity and discrete populations for this native seabird at colonies throughout the Pacific.

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Título según WOS: ID WOS:001164954100001 Not found in local WOS DB
Editorial: Springer
Fecha de publicación: 2024


Notas: ISI