Intercontinental genetic structure and gene flow in Dunlin (Calidris alpina), a potential vector of avian influenza

Evolutionary Applications
By: , and 



Waterfowl (Anseriformes) and shorebirds (Charadriiformes) are the most common wild vectors of influenza A viruses. Due to their migratory behavior, some may transmit disease over long distances. Migratory connectivity studies can link breeding and nonbreeding grounds while illustrating potential interactions among populations that may spread diseases. We investigated Dunlin (Calidris alpina), a shorebird with a subspecies (C. a. arcticola) that migrates from nonbreeding areas endemic to avian influenza in eastern Asia to breeding grounds in northern Alaska. Using microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA, we illustrate genetic structure among six subspecies: C. a. arcticola, C. a. pacifica, C. a. hudsonia, C. a. sakhalina, C. a. kistchinski, and C. a. actites. We demonstrate that mitochondrial DNA can help distinguish C. a. arcticola on the Asian nonbreeding grounds with >70% accuracy depending on their relative abundance, indicating that genetics can help determine whether C. a. arcticola occurs where they may be exposed to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) during outbreaks. Our data reveal asymmetric intercontinental gene flow, with some C. a. arcticola short-stopping migration to breed with C. a. pacifica in western Alaska. Because C. a. pacifica migrates along the Pacific Coast of North America, interactions between these subspecies and other taxa provide route for transmission of HPAI into other parts of North America.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Intercontinental genetic structure and gene flow in Dunlin (Calidris alpina), a potential vector of avian influenza
Series title Evolutionary Applications
DOI 10.1111/eva.12239
Volume 8
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 23 p.
First page 149
Last page 171
Country Canada, Russia, United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details