Spatio-temporal processes drive fine-scale genetic structure in an otherwise panmictic seabird population

Lucy J. H. Garrett, Julia P. Myatt, Jon P. Sadler, Deborah A. Dawson, Helen Hipperson, John K. Colbourne, Roger C. Dickey, Sam B. Weber, S. James Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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When and where animals breed can shape the genetic structure and diversity of animal populations. The importance of drivers of genetic diversity is amplified in island populations that tend to have more delineated gene pools compared to continental populations. Studies of relatedness as a function of the spatial distribution of individuals have demonstrated the importance of spatial organisation for individual fitness with outcomes that are conditional on the overall genetic diversity of the population. However, few studies have investigated the impact of breeding timing on genetic structure. We characterise the fine-scale genetic structure of a geographically-isolated population of seabirds. Microsatellite markers provide evidence for largely transient within-breeding season temporal processes and limited spatial processes, affecting genetic structure in an otherwise panmictic population of sooty terns Onychoprion fuscatus. Earliest breeders had significantly different genetic structure from the latest breeders. Limited evidence was found for localised spatial structure, with a small number of individuals being more related to their nearest neighbours than the rest of the population. Therefore, population genetic structure is shaped by heterogeneities in collective movement in time and to a lesser extent space, that result in low levels of spatio-temporal genetic structure and the maintenance of genetic diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20725
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date26 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2020


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