From Genes to Genomes: Local Adaptation and Adaptive Potential in Two Arctic Seabirds
By investigating the mechanisms underlying the evolution and the maintenance of local adaptations we can help predict how species will adapt to future environmental change. In this thesis I investigate local adaptation and adaptive potential in thick-billed and common murres (Uria lomvia and U. aalge), two arctic seabirds of international conservation concern. Thanks to the recent development of new genomic methods, I address three major themes that are relevant for both the development of evolutionary theory and conservation: 1) the role of gene flow in the origin and maintenance of adaptation; 2) levels and distribution of standing genetic variation, and their contribution to adaptive potential; and 3) the genomic mechanisms maintaining an adaptive dimorphism within a single interbreeding population. First, I review the literature on genomics of local adaptation with gene flow and find that adaptation can be maintained despite gene flow, that gene flow itself can promote adaptation, and that genetic architecture is important in the origin and maintenance of local adaptations. Second, I genotype genome-wide markers and toll-like receptor genes (TLRs) to investigate local adaptation and adaptive potential in thick-billed murres. Thick-billed murres do not show signatures of local adaptation to their breeding grounds, but outlier loci group birds according to their non-breeding distributions, suggesting that selection and/or demographic connectivity in the winter may explain patterns of differentiation in this species. Genetic variation at TLRs does not decrease with increasing latitude as predicted, but tests of selection and measures of genetic diversity suggest differences in local selective regimes at most genes. Thick-billed murres show high levels of standing genetic variation and their adaptive potential will mostly depend on rate and magnitude of environmental change. Finally, I improve and annotate the assembly of the highly heterozygous genome of the thick-billed murre. Using this assembly as a reference, I perform whole genome analyses to investigate the genomic basis of an adaptive dimorphism in Atlantic common murres. I show for the first time that a 60 kb complex copy number variant in a non-coding region maintains differences in plumage and cold adaptation despite high gene flow.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/15294
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