Genetic Divergence of an Avian Endemic on the Californian Channel IslandsReport as inadecuate

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The Californian Channel Islands are near–shore islands with high levels of endemism, but extensive habitat loss has contributed to the decline or extinction of several endemic taxa. A key parameter for understanding patterns of endemism and demography in island populations is the magnitude of inter–island dispersal. This paper estimates the extent of migration and genetic differentiation in three extant and two extinct populations of Channel Island song sparrows Melospiza melodia graminea. Inter–island differentiation was substantial G-ST: 0.14–0.37, with San Miguel Island having the highest genetic divergence and lowest migration rates. Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Island populations were less diverged with higher migration rates. Genetic signals of past population declines were detected in all of the extant populations. The Channel Island populations were significantly diverged from mainland populations of M. m. heermanni G-ST: 0.30–0.64. Ten mtDNA haplotypes were recovered across the extant and extinct Channel Island population samples. Two of the ten haplotypes were shared between the Northern and Southern Channel Islands, with one of these haplotypes being detected on the Californian mainland. Our results suggest that there is little contemporary migration between islands, consistent with early explanations of avian biogeography in the Channel Islands, and that song sparrow populations on the northern Channel Islands are demographically independent.

Author: Amy G. Wilson , Yvonne Chan, Sabrina S. Taylor, Peter Arcese



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