Assessing fine-scale population structure using RAD sequencing in a philopatric seabird, the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)

Wilson, Amy Catherine (2023) Assessing fine-scale population structure using RAD sequencing in a philopatric seabird, the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica). Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Dispersal and philopatry play key roles in population structure and gene flow for vagile species such as seabirds. Seabirds, including the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), are known to have strong breeding philopatry, but due to challenges of studying pre-breeding individuals, little is known about their natal philopatry or dispersal. My thesis investigated Atlantic puffins on Gull Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, using restriction site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing to assess: if fine-scale genetic population structure is detectable at the colony level, if there are differences in dispersal between the sexes, and the level of relatedness among individuals. I predicted that natal philopatry should generate genetic population structure at the colony level. Blood from Atlantic puffins in eight plots was collected, extracted, and sent for sequencing. Genetic admixture, principal component analysis (PCA), and Mantel tests were used to assess structure. The admixture and PCA found no evidence of genetic differentiation between plots or sex and the Mantel test found no significant correlations between genetic and geographic distance. I found little evidence of population structure within the colony, which suggests there may be natal dispersal in this species. Natal dispersal may be an important life history trait for maintaining gene flow in species.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 16065
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 49-63)
Keywords: Atlantic puffin, dispersal, philopatry, RAD sequencing, population structure, genetic
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology
Date: August 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Atlantic puffin--Dispersal--Gull Island (N.L.); Population genetics--Gull Island (N.L.); Population biology--Gull Island (N.L.); Nucleotide sequence; Atlantic puffin--Sexual behavior in animals--Gull Island (N.L.)

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