University Of Tasmania
153681 - Comparative population genomics reveals key barriers to dispersal.pdf (1.33 MB)
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Comparative population genomics reveals key barriers to dispersal in Southern Ocean penguins

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 14:03 authored by Clucas, GV, Jane YoungerJane Younger, Kao, D, Emmerson, L, Southwell, C, Wienecke, B, Rogers, AD, Bost, C-A, Miller, GD, Polito, MJ, Lelliott, P, Handley, J, Crofts, S, Phillips, RA, Dunn, MJ, Miller, KJ, Hart, T

The mechanisms that determine patterns of species dispersal are important factors in the production and maintenance of biodiversity. Understanding these mechanisms helps to forecast the responses of species to environmental change. Here, we used a comparative framework and genomewide data obtained through RAD-Seq to compare the patterns of connectivity among breeding colonies for five penguin species with shared ancestry, overlapping distributions and differing ecological niches, allowing an examination of the intrinsic and extrinsic barriers governing dispersal patterns. Our findings show that at-sea range and oceanography underlie patterns of dispersal in these penguins. The pelagic niche of emperor (Aptenodytes forsteri), king (A. patagonicus), Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae) and chinstrap (P. antarctica) penguins facilitates gene flow over thousands of kilometres. In contrast, the coastal niche of gentoo penguins (P. papua) limits dispersal, resulting in population divergences. Oceanographic fronts also act as dispersal barriers to some extent. We recommend that forecasts of extinction risk incorporate dispersal and that management units are defined by at-sea range and oceanography in species lacking genetic data.


Publication title

Molecular Ecology










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© 2018 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments