Population differentiation among Snowy Plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus) in North America Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/kk91fq81m

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  • Two North American subspecies of Snowy Plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus) have been described: the Cuban Snowy Plover (C. a. tenuirostris) and the Western Snowy Plover (C. a. nivosus). Coastal populations of the Western Snowy Plover are listed as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, while populations of the Cuban Snowy Plover in the southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico show evidence of decline and are being considered for listing. To clarify the relationships among populations, we examined variation in mitochondrial (mtDNA) sequences and at inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) loci among 8 populations distributed across North America and the Caribbean. MtDNA d-loop region sequences (322 bp, n = 126) revealed 8 haplotypes, with one haplotype unique to Puerto Rico, and indicated that Puerto Rico is significantly differentiated from all mainland populations. Conversely, neighbor-joining analysis of 16 ISSR loci suggests that Puerto Rico is nested within a cluster of populations from eastern continental North America. Evidence for structure among continental populations was weak among mtDNA haplotypes (ST = 0.025, p = 0.178), but analysis of ISSR markers supported subdivision into groups east and west of the Rocky Mountains (IST = 0.445, p <0.001). A significant relationship between genetic distance (pairwise FST) and geographic distance was observed (Mantel r = 0.85, p <0.01). Overall, two management units in continental North America (divided by the Rocky Mountains) and a separate unit for the Puerto Rican population may be warranted. We recommend that both genetic and demographic considerations be weighed in making policy decisions regarding the status and listing of Snowy Plover population segments.
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