Demographic history inferred from genome-wide data reveals two lineages of sheldgeese endemic to a glacial refugium in the southern Atlantic

Cecilia Kopuchian, Leonardo Campagna, Adrián S. Di Giacomo, Robert E. Wilson, Mariana Bulgarella, Pablo Petracci, Juan Mazar Barnett, Ricardo Matus, Olivia Blank, Kevin G. Mccracken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Aim: The Malvinas/Falkland Islands (MFI) constitute the largest archipelago in the southern Atlantic, and harbour endemic lineages that presumably evolved after sea-level rise, associated with glacial periods, isolated ancestral populations. We investigate the role of the MFI in isolating populations from continental counterparts of two highly vagile species: the sheldgeese Chloephaga picta and Chloephaga rubidiceps. Location: Patagonia and the Malvinas/Falkland Islands. Methods: We sampled C. picta and C. rubidiceps on the continent and MFI. Using a reduced-representation genomic approach, we quantified the genetic differentiation between insular and continental populations of both species, and used coalescent-based analyses to model their demography. Results: The MFI harbour independently evolving lineages of C. picta and C. rubidiceps, which diverged from their continental counterparts during the Middle-Late Pleistocene and have since experienced negligible gene flow. Main conclusions: The c. 450 km that separate the archipelago from the continent are sufficient to isolate populations of these putatively highly vagile species. Ancestral lineages may have reached the MFI refugium during glacial cycles. Without conservation measures, the drastic decline of the morphologically, behaviourally and ecologically distinct continental population of C. rubidiceps, to < 1000 individuals, may lead to the extinction of an independently evolving taxon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1979-1989
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Chloephaga
  • Malvinas/Falkland Islands
  • Patagonia
  • Pleistocene refugium
  • conservation genetics
  • demographic modelling
  • endangered species
  • island endemism
  • taxonomy


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