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Keywords:

  • dispersal;
  • hybridization;
  • microsatellites;
  • Pterodroma arminjoniana; Pterodroma neglecta;
  • vocalizations

Abstract

Historical records suggest that the petrels of Round Island (near Mauritius, Indian Ocean) represent a recent, long-distance colonization by species originating from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The majority of petrels on Round Island appear most similar to Pterodroma arminjoniana, a species whose only other breeding locality is Trindade Island in the South Atlantic. Using nine microsatellite loci, patterns of genetic differentiation in petrels from Round and Trindade Islands were analysed. The two populations exhibit low but significant levels of differentiation in allele frequencies and estimates of migration rate between islands using genetic data are also low, supporting the hypothesis that these populations have recently separated but are now isolated from one another. A second population of petrels, most similar in appearance to the Pacific species P. neglecta, is also present on Round Island and observations suggest that the two petrel species are hybridizing. Vocalizations recorded on the island also suggest that hybrid birds may be present within the population. Data from microsatellite genotypes support this hypothesis and indicate that there may have been many generations of hybridization and back-crossing between P. arminjoniana and P. neglecta on Round Island. Our results provide an insight into the processes of dispersal and the consequences of secondary contact in Procellariiformes.