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Global Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeography of Holarctic Breeding Dunlins (Calidris alpina)

Paul W. Wenink, Allan J. Baker, Hans-Ulrich Rosner and Marcel G. J. Tilanus
Evolution
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Feb., 1996), pp. 318-330
DOI: 10.2307/2410803
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410803
Page Count: 13
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Global Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeography of Holarctic Breeding Dunlins (Calidris alpina)
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Abstract

Comparison of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control-region sequences of 155 dunlins from 15 breeding populations confirmed the existence of five major phylogeographic groups in the circumpolar breeding range of this migratory shorebird species. Time estimates of the origin of groups, based on sequence divergences and a molecular clock for birds, suggest a scenario of repeated fragmentation of populations in isolated tundra refugia during the late Pleistocene. The distribution of about three-quarters of all detected molecular variance between phylogeographic groups attests to the strongly subdivided genetic population structure in dunlins that is being maintained by natal philopatry. Each mtDNA phylogeographic group can be related to a morphometrically defined subspecies, but several other recognized subspecies are not supported by monophyletic mtDNA lineages within their purported ranges. More detailed analysis of several European populations reveals low amounts of gene flow and the partitioning of a substantial fraction of molecular variance between them. This ongoing evolution of population-genetic structuring within the European phylogeographic group most likely started with the last retreat of the ice sheets some 10,000 years ago. Dunlins thus provide one of the clearest examples of the linkage between historical and contemporary components of mtDNA phylogeographic structuring in birds.

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