Intrinsic factors drive spatial genetic variation in a highly vagile species, the wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax, in Tasmania
Kozakiewicz, CP and Carver, S and Austin, JJ and Shephard, JM and Burridge, CP, Intrinsic factors drive spatial genetic variation in a highly vagile species, the wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax, in Tasmania, Journal of Avian Biology, 48, (7) pp. 1025-1034. ISSN 0908-8857 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Knowledge of dispersal in a species, both its quantity and the factors influencing it, are crucial for our understanding of ecology and evolution, and for species conservation. Here we quantified and formally assessed the potential contribution of extrinsic factors on individual dispersal in the threatened Tasmanian population of wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax. As successful breeding by these individuals appears strongly related to habitat, we tested the effect of landscape around sampling sites on genetic diversity and spatial genetic variation, as these are influenced by patterns of dispersal. Similarly, we also tested whether habitat intervening sampling sites could explain spatial genetic variation. Twenty microsatellites were scored, but only a small proportion of spatial genetic variation (4.6%) could be explained by extrinsic factors, namely habitat suitability and elevation between sites. However, significant clinal genetic variation was evident across Tasmania, which we explain by intrinsic factors, likely high natal philopatry and occasional long-distance dispersal. This study demonstrates that spatial genetic variation can be detected in highly vagile species at spatial scales that are small relative to putative dispersal ability, although here there was no substantial relationship with landscape factors tested.