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Title: Small scale genetic and morphological structure in an island population of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
Author: Walkup, Jessica A.
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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Variation in morphology and genotype among individuals of the same species occurs almost everywhere in the natural world. Such variation underlies natural selection and any resulting evolution, and therefore needs to be quantified in order to predict and understand phenotypic and evolutionary dynamics. Where morphology or genotype vary non-randomly in space, structured spatial variation can arise. Such spatial variation can arise from, and cause, further evolutionary processes including local adaptation and speciation. Here, I quantify spatial variation in neutral genetics and morphology, and in selection on morphology, occurring at a very small spatial scale within a single population of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) resident to the Island of Fair Isle. I demonstrate weak but statistically significant genetic structure in microsatellite loci by FST comparison but that similar structure is not supported by Bayesian cluster analysis. I also show significant genetic structure between populations of starlings within the UK from England, Scotland, Colonsay, Orkney and Shetland, and show that there are two main genetic clusters supported by Bayesian cluster analysis. I show there are significant differences in weight, tarsus lengths, bill lengths, bill size and, body condition among three, spatially proximate, spatial areas within Fair Isle thereby demonstrating significant small-scale spatial variation in morphology within this island population Using capture mark recapture analysis to estimate survival probabilities I evidence the occurrence of stabilizing selection on weight and disruptive selection on tarsus length in starlings but find no evidence that selection on morphology differed between sexes or among areas within Fair Isle. I conclude that small scale spatial variation in morphology and neutral genetics can occur on small spatial scales even in species with high potential mobility and where there are no distinct differences in environment and movement is not physically inhibited.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sturnus vulgaris ; Animal population genetics