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Genetic structure among Charadrius plovers on the African mainland and islands of Madagascar and St Helena

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posted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by N Dos Remedios, C Küpper, T Székely, S Zefania, F Burns, M Bolton, Patricia LeePatricia Lee
Colonization of islands by long-distance dispersers has great impact on genetic diversification among populations and may spearhead speciation events. We investigated intra- and interspecific divergence in Charadrius plovers with populations on mainland Africa, Madagascar and St Helena. We analysed microsatellite loci and sequence data from four nuclear and two mitochondrial gene regions. Charadrius plovers are shorebirds with high dispersal and mobility. Our results confirmed genetic differentiation between Madagascar and mainland populations of three plover species (White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus, Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius and, based on sequence data only, Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris) but highlight substantial variation in levels of intraspecific divergence among the three species. Namely, the Kittlitz's Plover, a dispersive habitat generalist with a polygamous mating system, exhibited lower island–mainland differentiation (0.05% COI sequence divergence) compared with the two monogamous species, the White-fronted Plover (0.6% COI divergence) and Three-banded Plover (1.6% COI divergence). In addition, past colonization of the islands of St Helena and Madagascar by ancestors of today's Kittlitz's Plover has led to the evolution of two endemic island species, the Madagascar Plover Charadrius thoracicus and the more closely-related St Helena Plover Charadrius sanctaehelenae. We discuss the factors driving species differences in island–mainland divergence and highlight the importance of conserving genetically unique island populations and island habitats to safeguard future evolutionary potential.

History

Journal

Ibis

Volume

162

Issue

1

Pagination

104 - 118

Publisher

Wiley

Location

Chichester, Eng.

ISSN

0019-1019

eISSN

1474-919X

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, The Authors