Population genomic structure and hybridization of Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) in the Canadian Arctic
Presented by: Emma Lachance Linklater
October 22nd at 12:30pm – 1:30pm EST
Climate change poses a significant threat to the future of Arctic ecosystems. To effectively conserve Arctic species, genetically differentiated populations must be defined for genetic variation to be appropriately managed. This project examines population genomic differentiation in Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) – a circumpolar Arctic species – and assesses hybridization between Glaucous Gull and three closely-related species. Glaucous Gull is a valuable species, both biologically and culturally. As apex predators, Glaucous Gulls develop high levels of toxins in their tissue and are, therefore, excellent bioindicators of the long-range transport of contaminants in the Arctic. Glaucous Gulls also hybridize with other white-headed gull species where breeding ranges overlap. Although the IUCN currently lists Glaucous Gull as Least Concern, declines have been reported across their range in Arctic Canada. Currently no finescale population genetic information exists for this species, and management units have not been delineated. Double digest restriction-site associated DNA sequencing was conducted on 62 Glaucous Gull, 18 American Herring Gull (L. smithsonianus), 6 European Herring Gull (L. argentatus), and 15 Glaucous-winged Gull (L. glaucescens) sampled across the North American and European Arctic. Despite the geographic distance between sampling locations, STRUCTURE and discriminant analysis of principal components (DAPC) suggest only weak population differentiation between European and Canadian colonies of Glaucous Gull. Interspecific analyses using 2145 loci show that Glaucous Gull and Glaucous-winged Gull are genetically distinct species but that Glaucous Gull and the two species of Herring Gull are only weakly differentiated. Several sampled individuals may represent hybrids between Glaucous Gull and other species. Detailed information on population genetic structure and hybridization will help conservation practitioners effectively manage the long-term persistence of Glaucous Gull populations. Proactive management strategies for this species will benefit both Glaucous Gull and the entire Arctic ecosystem.