Population genetic and behavioural variation of the two remaining colonies of Providence petrel (Pterodroma solandri)
Lombal, AJ and Wenner, TJ and Carlile, N and Austin, JJ and Woehler, E and Priddel, D and Burridge, CP, Population genetic and behavioural variation of the two remaining colonies of Providence petrel (Pterodroma solandri), Conservation Genetics, 18, (1) pp. 117-129. ISSN 1566-0621 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Copyright 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Knowledge of the dispersal capacity of species is crucial to assess their extinction risk, and to establish appropriate monitoring and management strategies. The Providence petrel (Pterodroma solandri) presently breeds only at Lord Howe Island (∼32,000 breeding pairs) and Phillip Island-7 km south of Norfolk Island (∼20 breeding pairs). A much larger colony previously existed on Norfolk Island (∼1,000,000 breeding pairs) but was hunted to extinction in the 18th Century. Differences in time of return to nesting sites are presently observed between the two extant colonies. Information on whether the Phillip Island colony is a relict population from Norfolk Island, or a recent colonization from Lord Howe Island, is essential to assess long-term sustainability and conservation significance of this small colony. Here, we sequenced the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and 14 nuclear introns, in addition to genotyping 10 microsatellite loci, to investigate connectivity of the two extant P. solandri populations. High gene flow between populations and recent colonization of Phillip Island (95 % HPD 56–200 ya) are inferred, which may delay or prevent the genetic differentiation of these insular populations. These results suggest high plasticity in behaviour in this species and imply limited genetic risks surrounding both the sustainability of the small Phillip Island colony, and a proposal for translocation of Lord Howe Island individuals to re-establish a colony on Norfolk Island.