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Microsatellite population structure of Newfoundland black bears (Ursus americanus hamiltoni)

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We investigated population structure of black bears (Ursus americanus hamiltoni Cameron, 1957) from insular Newfoundland using the microsatellite profiles of 12 loci from three broadly distributed areas (Northern, Baie Verte, and Bonavista peninsulas). Our goals were to revisit earlier findings of low heterozygosity in Newfoundland and increase knowledge of intraspecific variability in black bears, and make inferences about postglacial colonization and contemporary movements of island black bears. Ninety-three individuals (42 males) were identified among 543 hair samples: 21 from Bonavista, 25 from Northern Peninsula, and 47 from Baie Verte. Genetic diversity is relatively low (H E = 0.42) and decreases from northwest to southeast. Small but significant subpopulation differentiation revealed by F statistics is greatest between Northern and Baie Verte peninsulas; it is lower and comparable in the remaining pairwise comparisons. We hypothesize that postglacial colonization proceeded from the Northern Peninsula southeastward. Bears migrated from the Northern Peninsula to Baie Verte at some more distant time in the past, then diverged by genetic drift. More recently, migration occurred from these two populations to Bonavista, characterized by positive F IS indicative of admixture. Tests of biased dispersal and posterior probability of correct assignment to locality reveal contemporary movements of both males and females with historical dispersal attributable to males.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL A1B 3X9, Canada. 2: Genomics and Proteomics Facility, CREAIT Network, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7, Canada. 3: Department of Wildlife and Conservation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Corner Brook, NL A2H 7S1, Canada.

Publication date: September 24, 2011

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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