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Nonequilibrium conditions explain spatial variability in genetic structuring of little penguin (Eudyptula minor)

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 09:56 authored by Christopher BurridgeChristopher Burridge, Peuker, AJ, Valautham, SK, Styan, CA, Dann, P
Factors responsible for spatial structuring of population genetic variation are varied, and in many instances there may be no obvious explanations for genetic structuring observed, or those invoked may reflect spurious correlations. A study of little penguins (Eudyptula minor) in southeast Australia documented low spatial structuring of genetic variation with the exception of colonies at the western limit of sampling, and this distinction was attributed to an intervening oceanographic feature (Bonney Upwelling), differences in breeding phenology, or sea level change. Here, we conducted sampling across the entire Australian range, employing additional markers (12 microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA, 697 individuals, 17 colonies). The zone of elevated genetic structuring previously observed actually represents the eastern half of a genetic cline, within which structuring exists over much shorter spatial scales than elsewhere. Colonies separated by as little as 27 km in the zone are genetically distinguishable, while outside the zone, homogeneity cannot be rejected at scales of up to 1400 km. Given a lack of additional physical or environmental barriers to gene flow, the zone of elevated genetic structuring may reflect secondary contact of lineages (with or without selection against interbreeding), or recent colonization and expansion from this region. This study highlights the importance of sampling scale to reveal the cause of genetic structuring.


Publication title

Journal of Heredity








School of Natural Sciences


Oxford Univ Press Inc

Place of publication

Journals Dept, 2001 Evans Rd, Cary, USA, Nc, 27513

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 The American Genetic Association Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Marine biodiversity

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