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Phylogeography of the white-tailed eagle, a generalist with large dispersal capacity

Hailer, Frank, Helander, B., Folkestad, A. O., Ganusevich, S. A., Garstad, S., Hauff, P., Koren, C., Masterov, V. B., Nygard, T., Rudnick, J. A., Shiraki, S., Skarphedinsson, K., Volke, V., Wille, F. and Vila, C. 2007. Phylogeography of the white-tailed eagle, a generalist with large dispersal capacity. Journal of Biogeography 34 (7) , pp. 1193-1206. 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2007.01697.x

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Aim  Late Pleistocene glacial changes had a major impact on many boreal and temperate taxa, and this impact can still be detected in the present-day phylogeographic structure of these taxa. However, only minor effects are expected in species with generalist habitat requirements and high dispersal capability. One such species is the white-tailed eagle, Haliaeetus albicilla, and we therefore tested for the expected weak population structure at a continental level in this species. This also allowed us to describe phylogeographic patterns, and to deduce Ice Age refugia and patterns of postglacial recolonization of Eurasia. Location  Breeding populations from the easternmost Nearctic (Greenland) and across the Palaearctic (Iceland, continental Europe, central and eastern Asia, and Japan). Methods  Sequencing of a 500 base-pair fragment of the mitochondrial DNA control region in 237 samples from throughout the distribution range. Results  Our analysis revealed pronounced phylogeographic structure. Overall, low genetic variability was observed across the entire range. Haplotypes clustered in two distinct haplogroups with a predominantly eastern or western distribution, and extensive overlap in Europe. These two major lineages diverged during the late Pleistocene. The eastern haplogroup showed a pattern of rapid population expansion and colonization of Eurasia around the end of the Pleistocene. The western haplogroup had lower diversity and was absent from the populations in eastern Asia. These results suggest survival during the last glaciation in two refugia, probably located in central and western Eurasia, followed by postglacial population expansion and admixture. Relatively high genetic diversity was observed in northern regions that were ice-covered during the last glacial maximum. This, and phylogenetic relationships between haplotypes encountered in the north, indicates substantial population expansion at high latitudes. Areas of glacial meltwater runoff and proglacial lakes could have provided suitable habitats for such population growth. Main conclusions  This study shows that glacial climate fluctuations had a substantial impact on white-tailed eagles, both in terms of distribution and demography. These results suggest that even species with large dispersal capabilities and relatively broad habitat requirements were strongly affected by the Pleistocene climatic shifts.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Control region; Eurasia; Falconiformes; Haliaeetus albicilla; mtDNA; population expansion; postglacial colonization
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0305-0270
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2020 09:35

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