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Comparative population genomics reveals key barriers to dispersal in Southern Ocean penguins


Clucas, GV and Younger, JL and Kao, D and Emmerson, L and Southwell, C and Wienecke, B and Rogers, AD and Bost, C-A and Miller, GD and Polito, MJ and Lelliott, P and Handley, J and Crofts, S and Phillips, RA and Dunn, MJ and Miller, KJ and Hart, T, Comparative population genomics reveals key barriers to dispersal in Southern Ocean penguins, Molecular Ecology, 27, (23) pp. 4680-4697. ISSN 0962-1083 (2018) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

© 2018 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI: doi:10.1111/mec.14896


The mechanisms that determine patterns of species dispersal are important factors in the production and maintenance of biodiversity. Understanding these mechanisms helps to forecast the responses of species to environmental change. Here, we used a comparative framework and genomewide data obtained through RAD-Seq to compare the patterns of connectivity among breeding colonies for five penguin species with shared ancestry, overlapping distributions and differing ecological niches, allowing an examination of the intrinsic and extrinsic barriers governing dispersal patterns. Our findings show that at-sea range and oceanography underlie patterns of dispersal in these penguins. The pelagic niche of emperor (Aptenodytes forsteri), king (A. patagonicus), Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae) and chinstrap (P. antarctica) penguins facilitates gene flow over thousands of kilometres. In contrast, the coastal niche of gentoo penguins (P. papua) limits dispersal, resulting in population divergences. Oceanographic fronts also act as dispersal barriers to some extent. We recommend that forecasts of extinction risk incorporate dispersal and that management units are defined by at-sea range and oceanography in species lacking genetic data.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:population genomics, Pygoscelis, Aptenodytes, genetic differentiation, Polar Front
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Vertebrate biology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
UTAS Author:Younger, JL (Dr Jane Younger)
ID Code:153681
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:27
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-10-01
Last Modified:2022-11-09
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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