Morphological and genetic divergence among Alaskan populations of Brachyramphus murrelets

The Wilson Bulletin
By: , and 

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Abstract

We studied morphological and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) divergence among three populations of Brachyramphus Murrelets: Kittlitz's Murrelets (B. brevirostris), and tree-nesting and ground-nesting Marbled Murrelets (B. marmoratus). We found little morphological divergence in external and skeletal measurements among Marbled Murrelets, but both populations were easily distinguished from Kittlitz's Murrelets. Principal components analysis (PCA) of external measurements showed that Kittlitz's Murrelets occupied a distinct cloud in multivariate space separate from Marbled Murrelets. However, tree-nesting and ground-nesting Marbled Murrelets were indistinguishable. We obtained the same pattern from PCA of skeletal dimensions. Analysis of mtDNA revealed an estimate of sequence divergence of 4.4%-5.0% between Marbled Murrelets and Kittlitz's Murrelets, suggesting a divergence of about 2.2 MYBP. The difference between ground- and tree-nesting murrelets was 0.03%. This analysis suggests little divergence has occurred between tree- and ground-nesting populations of Marbled Murrelets.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Morphological and genetic divergence among Alaskan populations of Brachyramphus murrelets
Series title The Wilson Bulletin
Volume 107
Issue 2
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher Wilson Ornithological Society
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 235
Last page 250
Country United States
State Alaska