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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Birds of different feather flock together - genetic structure of Taiga Bean Goose in Central Scandinavia

De Jong, Adriaan; Kleven, Oddmund; Ostnes, Jan Eivind; Kroglund, Rolf Terje; Vahlstrom, Isak; Nilsson, Jan; Spong, Goran


During their flightless summer moult, Taiga Bean Geese Anser fabalis fabalis gather at communal moulting sites. Individuals from the Nord-TrOndelag breeding area in Norway have been observed to join with local individuals on moulting sites in Vilhelmina Municipality, Sweden. These two groups show distinct features in breeding habitat and migratory behaviour, but are they also genetically distinct? We used 12 microsatellite loci for genotyping 109 blood, feather and faecal samples from three sampling areas (ROyrvik in Norway and Stalon and Nastansjo in Sweden) to examine genetic diversity and structure. Clustering and Principal Coordinate analyses of all samples unveiled at least two distinct clusters, which were unevenly distributed over the sampling sites. Grouped by sampling sites, AMOVA and F-ST analyses showed that samples from the three sites differed genetically. These differences were larger between ROyrvik and Nastansjo than between Stalon and the other two. Relatedness was high among the ROyrvik samples. From our results we conclude that one of the clusters describes the ROyrvik breeding subpopulation, while the other(s) breed mainly in Sweden. Although these subpopulations simultaneously use the same moulting area in Vilhelmina, they appear to be ecologically, behaviourally and genetically distinct, in particular the ROyrvik sub-population. For goose conservation and management, we suggest that the Nord-TrOndelag (ROyrvik) subpopulation is considered a separate flyway management unit. Unravelling the Swedish sub-populations will need further study. For bird conservation is general, we suggest active genetic sampling for detailed population structure analyses and subsequent differentiated conservation and/or management schemes.

Published in

Bird Conservation International
2019, Volume: 29, number: 2, pages: 249-262