Conservation genetics of high-arctic Gull species at risk: I. Diversity in the mtDNA control region of circumpolar populations of the Endangered Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea)
The high-arctic Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea) has recently undergone a sharp decline in numbers, and in Canada it is listed as “Endangered” under the Species-At-Risk Act. To test for circumpolar genetic distinctiveness, we examined 264 bp of the mtDNA Control Region Domain I from 127 museum specimens collected during the breeding season from northern Canada, Greenland, and Norway, and during the non-breeding season from adjacent overwintering grounds in Canada, Greenland, and a disjunct area in Alaska adjacent to the Bering Sea. Partition of genetic variance according to various phylogeographic and breeding ground models indicates no strong population structure, except that Alaska birds are consistently differentiated from other locations, and there are significant temporal shifts in haplotype frequencies. The evidence suggests that Ivory Gulls in Canada, Greenland, and Norway are a single genetic entity, in contrast to Alaska birds, which may represent a distinctive Siberian population.