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Immigration and the ephemerality of a natural population bottleneck: evidence from molecular markers

Keller, L. F., Jeffery, Kathryn Jane, Arcese, P., Beaumont, M. A., Hochachka, W. M., Smith, J. N. M. and Bruford, Michael William 2001. Immigration and the ephemerality of a natural population bottleneck: evidence from molecular markers. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 268 (1474) , pp. 1387-1394. 10.1098/rspb.2001.1607

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Population bottlenecks are often invoked to explain low levels of genetic variation in natural populations, yet few studies have documented the direct genetic consequences of known bottlenecks in the wild. Empirical studies of natural population bottlenecks are therefore needed, because key assumptions of theoretical and laboratory studies of bottlenecks may not hold in the wild. Here we present microsatellite data from a severe bottleneck (95% mortality) in an insular population of song sparrows (Melospiza melodia). The major findings of our study are as follows: (i) The bottleneck reduced heterozygosity and allelic diversity nearly to neutral expectations, despite non–random survival of birds with respect to inbreeding and wing length. (ii) All measures of genetic diversity regained pre–bottleneck levels within two to three years of the crash. This rapid recovery was due to low levels of immigration. (iii) The rapid recovery occurred despite a coincident, strong increase in average inbreeding. These results show that immigration at levels that are hard to measure in most field studies can lead to qualitatively very different genetic outcomes from those expected from mutations only. We suggest that future theoretical and empirical work on bottlenecks and metapopulations should address the impact of immigration.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Publisher: Royal Society
ISSN: 0962-8452
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:43

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