Data from: Widespread gene flow between oceans in a pelagic seabird species complex
Raisin, Claire et al. (2017), Data from: Widespread gene flow between oceans in a pelagic seabird species complex, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fg86p
Global-scale gene flow is an important concern in conservation biology as it has the potential to either increase or decrease genetic diversity in species and populations. Although many studies focus on the gene flow between different populations of a single species, the potential for gene flow and introgression between species is understudied, particularly in seabirds. The only well-studied example of a mixed-species, hybridizing population of petrels exists on Round Island, in the Indian Ocean. Previous research assumed that Round Island represents a point of secondary contact between Atlantic (Pterodroma arminjoniana) and Pacific species (Pterodroma neglecta and Pterodroma heraldica). This study uses microsatellite genotyping and tracking data to address the possibility of between-species hybridization occurring outside the Indian Ocean. Dispersal and gene flow spanning three oceans were demonstrated between the species in this complex. Analysis of migration rates estimated using bayesass revealed unidirectional movement of petrels from the Atlantic and Pacific into the Indian Ocean. Conversely, structure analysis revealed gene flow between species of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with potential three-way hybrids occurring outside the Indian Ocean. Additionally, geolocation tracking of Round Island petrels revealed two individuals travelling to the Atlantic and Pacific. These results suggest that interspecific hybrids in Pterodroma petrels are more common than was previously assumed. This study is the first of its kind to investigate gene flow between populations of closely related Procellariiform species on a global scale, demonstrating the need for consideration of widespread migration and hybridization in the conservation of threatened seabirds.