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Arctic fox Vulpes lagopus population structure: circumpolar patterns and processes
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. (Svenska fjällrävsprojektet)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9707-5206
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8270-7613
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2011 (English)In: Oikos, ISSN 0030-1299, E-ISSN 1600-0706, Vol. 120, no 6, 873-885 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Movement is a prominent process shaping genetic population structure. In many northern mammal species, population structure is formed by geographic distance, geographical barriers and various ecological factors that influence movement over the landscape. The Arctic fox Vulpes lagopus is a highly mobile, opportunistic carnivore of the Arctic that occurs in two main ecotypes with different ecological adaptations. We assembled microsatellite data in 7 loci for 1834 Arctic foxes sampled across their entire distribution to describe the circumpolar population structure and test the impact of (1) geographic distance, (2) geographical barriers and (3) ecotype designation on the population structure. Both Structure and Geneland demonstrated distinctiveness of Iceland and Scandinavia whereas low differentiation was observed between North America-northern Greenland, Svalbard and Siberia. Genetic differentiation was significantly correlated to presence of sea ice on a global scale, but not to geographical distance or ecotype designation. However, among areas connected by sea ice, we recorded a pattern of isolation by distance. The maximum likelihood approach in Migrate suggested that connectivity across North America-northern Greenland and Svalbard was particularly high. Our results demonstrate the importance of sea ice for maintaining connectivity between Arctic fox populations and we therefore predict that climate change will increase genetic divergence among populations in the future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 120, no 6, 873-885 p.
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43525DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2010.18766.xISI: 000290871400009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-43525DiVA: diva2:357589
Available from: 2010-10-19 Created: 2010-10-19 Last updated: 2017-12-12
In thesis
1. Genetic structure in the North- population connectivity and social organization in the Arctic fox
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Genetic structure in the North- population connectivity and social organization in the Arctic fox
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Genetic variation is distributed on different spatial and temporal scales, reflecting the ecological and geographical complexity in the habitat. In this thesis, the primary objective was to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the genetic structuring in the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) and to identify the underlying factors forming these structures. Using microsatellites, presence of sea ice was identified as the main factor determining the large-scale genetic structure in the Arctic fox. Genetic distinctiveness was demonstrated for populations surrounded by year-round open water (i.e. Iceland and Scandinavia) and among areas connected by sea ice, genetic differentiation was mainly determined by the geographic distance (PAPER I). Movement across the sea ice was influenced by fluctuations in resource abundance caused by the lemming cycle. As a consequence of low lemming abundance, long-distance movement from inland habitats into coastal habitats influenced the genetic structure on a temporal scale (PAPER II). Although the global connectivity was determined by few underlying factors, local population structures were influenced by population-specific historical, demographic and ecological factors (PAPER II, III, IV). Geographical barriers determined genetic structure within the isolated population on Iceland (PAPER III), whereas immigration influenced the local genetic structure in both Svalbard (PAPER II) and Scandinavia (PAPER IV). When population size is low, few immigration events cause rapid changes in genetic composition (PAPER IV), while immigration had a less pronounced effect in larger populations (PAPER II). On the social scale, high flexibility regarding the composition of social groups was recorded as a likely response to local habitat conditions (PAPER V). Complex social groups were more common in habitats with high resource availability and presence of predators than in habitats without predation. This thesis illustrates the importance of ecology and demography forming genetic structure at different scales, and highlights the Arctic fox vulnerability to the ongoing climate change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2010. 19 p.
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43529 (URN)978-91-7447-155-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-11-26, Magnélisalen, Kemiska övningslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16 B, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
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Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: In press. Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript. Available from: 2010-11-03 Created: 2010-10-19 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically approved

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