Flyway structure in the circumpolar greater white‐fronted goose

Ecology and Evolution
By: , and 



Dispersal and migratory behavior are influential factors in determining how genetic diversity is distributed across the landscape. In migratory species, genetic structure can be promoted via several mechanisms including fidelity to distinct migratory routes. Particularly within North America, waterfowl management units have been delineated according to distinct longitudinal migratory flyways supported by banding data and other direct evidence. The greater white‐fronted goose (Anser albifrons) is a migratory waterfowl species with a largely circumpolar distribution consisting of up to six subspecies roughly corresponding to phenotypic variation. We examined the rangewide population genetic structure of greater white‐fronted geese using mtDNA control region sequence data and microsatellite loci from 23 locales across North America and Eurasia. We found significant differentiation in mtDNA between sampling locales with flyway delineation explaining a significant portion of the observed genetic variation (~12%). This is concordant with band recovery data which shows little interflyway or intercontinental movements. However, microsatellite loci revealed little genetic structure suggesting a panmictic population across most of the Arctic. As with many high‐latitude species, Beringia appears to have played a role in the diversification of this species. A common Beringian origin of North America and Asian populations and a recent divergence could at least partly explain the general lack of structure at nuclear markers. Further, our results do not provide strong support for the various taxonomic proposals for this species except for supporting the distinctness of two isolated breeding populations within Cook Inlet, Alaska (A. a. elgasi) and Greenland (A. a. flavirostris), consistent with their subspecies status.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Flyway structure in the circumpolar greater white‐fronted goose
Series title Ecology and Evolution
DOI 10.1002/ece3.4345
Volume 8
Issue 16
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB
Description 18 p.
First page 8490
Last page 8507
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details