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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

A re-examination of population structure in Arctic ringed seals using DArTseq genotyping

A. R. Lang*, P. Boveng, L. Quakenbush, K. Robertson, M. Lauf, K. D. Rode, H. Ziel, B. L. Taylor

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Although Arctic ringed seals Phoca hispida hispida are currently abundant and broadly distributed, their numbers are projected to decline substantially by the year 2100 due to climate warming. While understanding population structure could provide insight into the impact of environmental changes on this subspecies, detecting demographically important levels of exchange can be difficult in taxa with high abundance. We used a next generation sequencing approach (DArTseq) to genotype ~5700 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 79 seals from 4 Pacific Arctic regions. Comparison of the 2 most geographically separated strata (eastern Bering vs. northeastern Chukchi-Beaufort Seas) revealed a statistically significant level of genetic differentiation (FST = 0.001, p = 0.005) that, while small, was 1 to 2 orders of magnitude greater than expected based on divergence estimated for similarly sized populations connected by low (1% yr–1) dispersal. A relatively high proportion (72 to 88%) of individuals within these strata could be genetically assigned to their strata of origin. These results indicate that demographically important structure may be present among Arctic ringed seals breeding in different areas, increasing the risk that declines in the number of seals breeding in areas most negatively affected by environmental warming could occur.