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Re-examination of population structure in Arctic ringed seals using DArTseq genotyping

January 14, 2021

Although Arctic ringed seals Phoca hispida hispida are currently abundant and broadly distributed, their numbers are projected to decline substantially by the year 2100 due to climate warming. While understanding population structure could provide insight into the impact of environmental changes on this subspecies, detecting demographically important levels of exchange can be difficult in taxa with high abundance. We used a next-generation sequencing approach (DArTseq) to genotype ~5700 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 79 seals from 4 Pacific Arctic regions. Comparison of the 2 most geographically separated strata (eastern Bering vs. northeastern Chukchi-Beaufort Seas) revealed a statistically significant level of genetic differentiation (FST = 0.001, p = 0.005) that, while small, was 1 to 2 orders of magnitude greater than expected based on divergence estimated for similarly sized populations connected by low (1% yr-1) dispersal. A relatively high proportion (72 to 88%) of individuals within these strata could be genetically assigned to their stratum of origin. These results indicate that demographically important structure may be present among Arctic ringed seals breeding in different areas, increasing the risk that declines in the number of seals breeding in areas most negatively affected by environmental warming could occur.

Publication Year 2021
Title Re-examination of population structure in Arctic ringed seals using DArTseq genotyping
DOI 10.3354/esr01087
Authors Aimee R. Lang, Peter L. Boveng, L. Quakenbush, K. Robertson, M. Lauf, Karyn D. Rode, H. Ziel, B .L. Taylor
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Endangered Species Research
Index ID 70217338
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB