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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 382:197-209 (2009)  -  DOI:

Population structure in a highly pelagic seabird, the Cory’s shearwater Calonectris diomedea: an examination of genetics, morphology and ecology

E. Gómez-Díaz1,2,3,*, J. González-Solís1, M. A. Peinado2

1Departament de Biologia Animal (Vertebrats), Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 645, Barcelona 08028, Spain
2Institut de Medicina Predictiva i Personalitzada del Càncer (IMPPC), Badalona 08916, Barcelona, Spain
3Present address: Génétique et Évolution des Maladies Infectieuses, UMR CNRS/IRD 2724, IRD, 911 Avenue Agropolis, B.P. 64501, 34394 Montpellier, France

ABSTRACT: Increasing evidence suggests oceanic traits may play a key role in the genetic structuring of marine organisms. Whereas genetic breaks in the open ocean are well known in fishes and marine invertebrates, the importance of marine habitat characteristics in seabirds remains less certain. We investigated the role of oceanic transitions versus population genetic processes in driving population differentiation in a highly vagile seabird, the Cory’s shearwater, combining molecular, morphological and ecological data from 27 breeding colonies distributed across the Mediterranean (Calonectris diomedea diomedea) and the Atlantic (C. d. borealis). Genetic and biometric analyses showed a clear differentiation between Atlantic and Mediterranean Cory’s shearwaters. Ringing-recovery data indicated high site fidelity of the species, but we found some cases of dispersal among neighbouring breeding sites (<300 km) and a few long distance movements (>1000 km) within and between each basin. In agreement with this, comparison of phenotypic and genetic data revealed both current and historical dispersal events. Within each region, we did not detect any genetic substructure among archipelagos in the Atlantic, but we found a slight genetic differentiation between western and eastern breeding colonies in the Mediterranean. Accordingly, gene flow estimates suggested substantial dispersal among colonies within basins. Overall, genetic structure of the Cory’s shearwater matches main oceanographic breaks (Almería-Oran Oceanic Front and Siculo-Tunisian Strait), but spatial analyses suggest that patterns of genetic differentiation are better explained by geographic rather than oceanographic distances. In line with previous studies, genetic, phenotypic and ecological evidence supported the separation of Atlantic and Mediterranean forms, suggesting the 2 taxa should be regarded as different species.

KEY WORDS: Almería-Oran Oceanic Front · Atlantic Ocean · Biometrics · Genetic differentiation · Mediterranean Sea · Marine transition · Oceanic habitat · Procellariforms · Ringing-resight

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Cite this article as: Gómez-Díaz E, González-Solís J, Peinado MA (2009) Population structure in a highly pelagic seabird, the Cory’s shearwater Calonectris diomedea: an examination of genetics, morphology and ecology. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 382:197-209.

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