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Natal philopatry does not lead to population genetic differentiation in Buller's albatross (Thalassarche bulleri bulleri)


Margo van Bekkum, Fax: +64-4-4635331; E-mail:


Genetic variability in the only two existing populations of Buller's albatross (Thalassarche bulleri bulleri) was assessed using six polymorphic microsatellite loci. Large biological samples were obtained from both the Snares (n = 99) and the Solander Islands (n = 27). Several measures of genetic differentiation including FST and RST and a principal coordinates analysis (PCO) suggest a complete absence of genetic structure between three breeding colonies on the Snares Islands, and between them and one breeding colony on the Solander Islands. Mark/recapture studies of recently banded albatross chicks on the Snares found high natal philopatry in T. b. bulleri, but the microsatellite DNA data suggest that sufficient gene flow still occurs between all four breeding colonies to maintain a genetically homogeneous population overall.