Conservation Genetics

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 607–614 | Cite as

Population genetic structure and conservation of marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus)

  • V.L. Friesen
  • T.P. Birt
  • J.F. Piatt
  • R.T. Golightly
  • S.H. Newman
  • P.N. Hébert
  • B.C. Congdon
  • G. Gissing


Marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) are coastal seabirds that nest from California to the Aleutian Islands. They are declining and considered threatened in several regions. We compared variation in the mitochondrial control region, four nuclear introns and three microsatellite loci among194 murrelets from throughout their range except Washington and Oregon. Significant population genetic structure was found: nine private control region haplotypes and three private intron alleles occurred at high frequency in the Aleutians and California; global estimates of F ST or ΦST and most pairwise estimates involving the Aleutians and/or California were significant; and marked isolation-by-distance was found. Given the available samples, murrelets appear to comprise five genetic management units: (1) western Aleutian Islands, (2) central Aleutian Islands, (3) mainland Alaska and British Columbia, (4) northern California, and (5) central California.


conservation genetics intron management unit marbled murrelet 


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Samples used in this study were obtained through the assistance of E. Burkett, V. Byrd, H. Carter, F. Cooke, A. Derocher, T. Hofstra, G. Kaiser, M.␣Kassera, S. Kitaysky, K. Kuletz, K. Martin, Z. Peery, T. van Pelt, J. Pitocchelli, A. Pritchard, L.␣Roberts, D. Roseneau, H. Sakai, S. Speckman, W. Sydeman, J. Williams, and the Captain and Crew of the Tiglax. Help with data collection and interpretation was provided by C. Crossman, G. Ibarguchi, R. Kristensen, D. Michaud, V. Poland, and L.Veit. Funding was provided by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, Scotia Pacific Lumber, the U.S. National Park Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and a Premier’s Research Excellence Award. The findings and conclusions presented by the authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • V.L. Friesen
    • 1
  • T.P. Birt
    • 1
  • J.F. Piatt
    • 2
  • R.T. Golightly
    • 3
  • S.H. Newman
    • 4
  • P.N. Hébert
    • 3
  • B.C. Congdon
    • 5
  • G. Gissing
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Alaska Biological Sciences CenterU.S. Geological SurveyAnchorageU.S.A
  3. 3.Department of WildlifeHumboldt State UniversityArcataU.S.A
  4. 4.Wildlife TrustPalisadesU.S.A
  5. 5.School of Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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