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Microsatellite data of Southern Dunlin breeding across the Baltic


Pakanen, Veli-Matti et al. (2021), Microsatellite data of Southern Dunlin breeding across the Baltic, Dryad, Dataset,


The stored data were used in a study by Rönkä et al. (2021). See full citation in Usage notes. Here is the abstract of Rönkä et al. (2021).

Background: Populations living in fragmented habitats may suffer from loss of genetic variation and reduced between-patch dispersal, which are processes that can result in genetic differentiation. This occurs frequently in species with reduced mobility, whereas genetic differentiation is less common among mobile species such as migratory birds. The high dispersal capacity in the latter species usually allows for gene flow even in fragmented landscapes. However, strongly philopatric behaviour can reinforce relative isolation and the degree of genetic differentiation. The Southern Dunlin (Calidris alpina schinzii) is a philopatric, long-distance migratory shorebird and shows reduced dispersal between isolated breeding patches. The endangered population of the Southern Dunlin breeding at the Baltic Sea has suffered from habitat deterioration and fragmentation of coastal meadows. We sampled DNA across the entire population and used 12 polymorphic microsatellite loci to examine whether the environmental changes have resulted in genetic structuring and loss of variation.

Results: We found a pattern of isolation-by-distance across the whole Baltic population and genetic differentiation between local populations, even within the southern Baltic. Observed heterozygosity was lower than expected throughout the range and internal relatedness values were positive indicating inbreeding.

Conclusions: Our results provide long-term, empirical evidence for the theoretically expected links between habitat fragmentation, population subdivision, and gene flow. They also demonstrate a rare case of genetic differentiation between populations of a long-distance migratory species. The Baltic Southern Dunlin differs from many related shorebird species that show near panmixia, reflecting its philopatric life history and the reduced connectivity of its breeding patches. The results have important implications as they suggest that reduced connectivity of breeding habitats can threaten even long-distance migrants if they show strong philopatry during breeding. The Baltic Southern Dunlin warrants urgent conservation efforts that increase functional connectivity and gene flow between breeding areas.


The data include samples from 8 different breeding populations of the southern dunlin across the Baltic Sea (1. Finland, Bothnian Bay; 2. Finland, Pori; 3. Finland, Jurmo; 4. Estonia; 5. Denmark; 6. Western Sweden; 7. Eastern Sweden and 8. Southern Sweden). Samples were collected during the breeding season during years (1997–2016). DNA was extracted and 12 microsatellites were amplified. These markers included (Ruff1, Ruff6, Pgt83, Cme1, Cme2, Cme6, Calp2, CAS009877, CAS011379, CAS012162, CAS023374, CAS026519).

Usage Notes

The file includes allele data for 12 microsatellites (columns; two alleles per locus) for each samples individual (row). The first column indicates individual ID and sampled population. Missing values are blank cells.

Rönkä N, Pakanen VM, Pauliny A, Thomson RL, Nuotio K, Pehlak H, Thorup O, Lehikoinen P, Rönkä A, Blomqvist D, Koivula K, Kvist L (2021) Genetic differentiation in an endangered and strongly philopatric, migrant shorebird.  BMC Ecol Evo 21, 125.


Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Oulu

Emil Aaltosen Säätiö

Ella ja Georg Ehrnroothin Säätiö

Oulun Yliopiston Tukisäätiö

Academy of Finland, Award: 128384

Academy of Finland, Award: 278759

Suomen Luonnonsuojelun Säätiö

Koneen Säätiö

Tauno Tönningin Säätiö

Suomen Kulttuurirahasto

Estonian Environmental Board

Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas, Award: 21.5/2002-1037

Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas, Award: 217-2005-817

Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas, Award: 215-2009-463

Stiftelsen Oscar och Lili Lamms Minne, Award: FO2009-0007

Stiftelsen Oscar och Lili Lamms Minne, Award: FO2012-0039

Carl Tryggers Stiftelse för Vetenskaplig Forskning, Award: CTS 09:294

Stiftelsen Olle Engkvist Byggmästare

Länsstyrelsen Hallands Län

Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Oulu

Estonian Environmental Board