The Impact of Migration on the Evolution and Conservation of an Endemic North American Passerine: Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)
Chabot, Amy A.
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Migration acts as a selective force on the ecology and evolutionary trajectory of species, as well as presenting fundamental challenges for conservation. My thesis examines the impact of migration by exploring patterns of differentiation among and within migratory and non-migratory populations of the Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus). First, I use morphological, genotypic, stable isotope and leg band recovery data to quantify migratory connectivity in the species. Comparison across markers reveals a generally concordant pattern of moderate connectivity to the Gulf Coast, but overall mixing among populations on the wintering grounds. Combining data from multiple markers in a Bayesian framework improves the resolution of assignment of wintering birds to a breeding ground origin. Information on the species’ migratory patterns provides an explicit framework for interpreting patterns of genetic and ecological variation. I test two hypotheses regarding the interaction of gene flow and migratory habit: (1) migration facilitates gene flow; and (2) gene flow will occur most often along the axis of migration. Genetic population structure in migratory populations is weaker than in non-migratory populations, with gene flow facilitated by dispersal movements of females and first year breeders. As predicted, gene flow occurs most often along the north-south axis of migration, likely due either to opportunistic settling of dispersers or potentially, pairing on the wintering grounds. I investigate variation in the extent and scheduling of moult in relation to underlying genetic differences among populations, age, sex, body size, food availability and migratory habit. I find a pattern of interrupted moult across migratory populations, which may represent a trade-off between time allocated to breeding versus molt and migration. Loggerhead Shrikes in eastern and more southerly migratory populations undergo a greater extent of their moult on the breeding grounds and non-migratory individuals undergo a more extensive pre-formative moult than migratory individuals. I interpret this as suggesting a trade-off between resources allocated to molt versus those required for reproduction.