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Families in space: relatedness in the Barents Sea population of polar bears ( Ursus maritimus )

Families in space: relatedness in the Barents Sea population of polar bears ( Ursus maritimus ) The kin structure and dispersal pattern of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) of the Barents Sea was investigated during the spring mating season using two complementary approaches. First, individual genotypes based on the analyses of 27 microsatellite loci of 583 polar bears were related to field information gathered from 1146 bears in order to reconstruct the animals’ pedigrees and to infer geographical distances between adult bears of different relatedness categories. According to the data, the median natal dispersal distance of the male animals was 52 km while that of the females was 93 km. Second, the relatedness of pairs of adult bears was estimated and correlated to the geographical distance between them. The female dyads had a much stronger kin structure than the male dyads. The ‘pedigree approach’ revealed a male kin structure which could not be detected using the ‘relatedness approach’. This suggests that, on a broader scale, effective dispersal is slightly male biased. Despite fidelity to natal areas, male‐mediated gene flow may nevertheless prevent genetic differentiation. Males might occasionally shift their home range which could therefore lead to a male‐biased breeding dispersal. Our results showed that a nonterritorial species such as the polar bear that has a high dispersal potential, lives in a highly unstable environment and migrates seasonally is still able to exhibit a distinct kin structure during the mating season. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Molecular Ecology Wiley

Families in space: relatedness in the Barents Sea population of polar bears ( Ursus maritimus )

Molecular Ecology , Volume 18 (4) – Feb 1, 2009

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
ISSN
0962-1083
eISSN
1365-294X
DOI
10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.04049.x
pmid
19175504
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The kin structure and dispersal pattern of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) of the Barents Sea was investigated during the spring mating season using two complementary approaches. First, individual genotypes based on the analyses of 27 microsatellite loci of 583 polar bears were related to field information gathered from 1146 bears in order to reconstruct the animals’ pedigrees and to infer geographical distances between adult bears of different relatedness categories. According to the data, the median natal dispersal distance of the male animals was 52 km while that of the females was 93 km. Second, the relatedness of pairs of adult bears was estimated and correlated to the geographical distance between them. The female dyads had a much stronger kin structure than the male dyads. The ‘pedigree approach’ revealed a male kin structure which could not be detected using the ‘relatedness approach’. This suggests that, on a broader scale, effective dispersal is slightly male biased. Despite fidelity to natal areas, male‐mediated gene flow may nevertheless prevent genetic differentiation. Males might occasionally shift their home range which could therefore lead to a male‐biased breeding dispersal. Our results showed that a nonterritorial species such as the polar bear that has a high dispersal potential, lives in a highly unstable environment and migrates seasonally is still able to exhibit a distinct kin structure during the mating season.

Journal

Molecular EcologyWiley

Published: Feb 1, 2009

References