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Title: Ecological and genetic perspectives on dispersal in European shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Author: Barlow, Emily J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2722 0716
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2011
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Dispersal is a fundamental ecological and evolutionary process that can create demographic and genetic linkage between neighbouring and distant locations, influencing the dynamics, structure and ultimately the persistence of populations. To understand observed population dynamics and structure and to predict future change, accurate and comprehensive data are required describing the pattern and magnitude of dispersal and gene flow across all relevant spatial scales. However, this is a major empirical challenge. In this thesis, I aimed to obtain comprehensive empirical data quantifying natal dispersal patterns and population genetic structure across multiple spatial scales using the European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) as a model species. I used a combination of field observations of shags individually ringed on the Isle of May, Scotland and molecular genetic techniques to accomplish these aims. By locating adult shags that had been ringed as chicks on the Isle of May at their breeding locations across eastern Scotland, I demonstrated divergent dispersal distributions at small versus large spatial scales. Using both mitochondrial DNA markers and a newly developed set of microsatellite markers, I quantified population genetic structure across a pan-European scale. This was weak across both molecular markers suggesting a role for occasional effective long-distance dispersal. However, a suite of evolutionary forces besides gene flow can create observed population genetic structure. Therefore, I quantified population genetic structure across populations in eastern Scotland, and quantitatively linked this indirect estimate of gene flow with my direct field observations of dispersal. Dispersal parameters derived explicitly from field observations and the spatial organisation of populations were shown to strongly influence observed population genetic structure. Overall, these data demonstrate the need to utilise both field observations and genetic methods to comprehensively estimate the extent and effectiveness of dispersal and highlight the importance of accurately quantifying long-distance dispersal in particular for predicting future change.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Population ecology ; Population Dynamics ; Shag (Bird)