Determining haplotype diversity of modern North Pacific albatross (Phoebastria) using ancient and historic mitochondrial DNA

Danielle Nisan


North Pacific albatross –Short-tailed (STAL), Black-footed (BFAL), and Laysan (LAAL)— were over-exploited and driven nearly to extinction in the mid-1900s. The population has begun to rebound since this extreme bottleneck. To further understand the change through time in these species, we have undertaken a genetic approach. This research seeks to determine how many extant haplotypes persist in STAL, BFAL and LAAL. Using samples of ancient and historic individual albatross collected from different regions in the North Pacific, we amplified and sequenced two mitochondrial DNA regions, Cytochrome b and d-loop. The d-loop regions, with a faster mutation rate than cytochrome b regions, are more indicative of recent mutations and diversity within the target species. Cytochrome b data indicated very low levels of diversity within all three species, and especially in the STAL. We found that d-loop regions showed much greater diversity within all of the species, and particularly in the LAAL.

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