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A rangewide population genetic study of trumpeter swans

Oyler-McCance, S. J., Ransler, F. A., Berkman, L. K., Quinn, T. W.
Conservation genetics 2007 v.8 no.6 pp. 1339-1353
Cygnus, coasts, flocks, genetic markers, genetic variation, microsatellite repeats, mitochondrial DNA, population dynamics, swans, waterfowl, Yukon Territory
For management purposes, the range of naturally occurring trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) has been divided into two populations, the Pacific Coast Population (PP) and the Rocky Mountain Population (RMP). Little is known about the distribution of genetic variation across the species' range despite increasing pressure to make difficult management decisions regarding the two populations and flocks within them. To address this issue, we used rapidly evolving genetic markers (mitochondrial DNA sequence and 17 nuclear microsatellite loci) to elucidate the underlying genetic structure of the species. Data from both markers revealed a significant difference between the PP and RMP with the Yukon Territory as a likely area of overlap. Additionally, we found that the two populations have somewhat similar levels of genetic diversity (PP is slightly higher) suggesting that the PP underwent a population bottleneck similar to a well-documented one in the RMP. Both genetic structure and diversity results reveal that the Tri-State flock, a suspected unique, non-migratory flock, is not genetically different from the Canadian flock of the RMP and need not be treated as a unique population from a genetic standpoint. Finally, trumpeter swans appear to have much lower mitochondrial DNA variability than other waterfowl studied thus far which may suggest a previous, species-wide bottleneck.