The final frontier: Early-stage genetic introgression and hybrid habitat use in the northwestern extent of the Golden-winged Warbler breeding range
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Anthropogenic changes to the landscape and climate have resulted in secondary contact between previously allopatric species. This can result in genetic introgression and reverse speciation when closely related species are able to hybridize. The Golden-winged Warbler has declined or been extirpated across much of its range where it has come into secondary contact with the Blue-winged Warbler. Genetic screening previously showed that introgression had occurred range-wide with the exception of Manitoba, Canada. Our goal was to reassess the genetic status of the Golden-winged Warbler population in Manitoba and to examine the demographics and habitat use of phenotypic and genetic hybrids. From 2011-2014, we sampled and screened mtDNA from 205 Golden-winged Warblers and hybrids in Southeast Manitoba. In 2012, we monitored all Golden-winged Warbler territories within those sites and measured territory- and landscape-level habitat variables. Of the birds screened, 195 had a phenotype that matched their mtDNA type, 2 were phenotypic hybrids, and 8 showed a phenotypic-mtDNA mismatch (cryptic hybrids). We found no difference in the habitat used by Golden-winged Warblers compared with hybrids at either scale. The low proportion of hybrids found in Manitoba and the lack of a distinguishable difference in habitat use by Golden-winged Warblers and hybrids indicates that the exclusion of hybrid birds from Golden-winged Warbler habitat is unlikely to be a successful conservation strategy. The best way to manage for Golden-winged Warblers is to slow the habitat loss and fragmentation that continues within Manitoba and to actively manage early-successional deciduous forest using tools such as fire and logging.
extinction ∙ genetic introgression ∙ hybridization ∙ mitochondrial DNA ∙ warbler ∙ reverse speciation
14. Moulton, L., Vallender, R., Artuso, C., and Koper, N. 2018. The final frontier: Early-stage genetic introgression and hybrid habitat use in the northwestern extent of the Golden-winged Warbler breeding range. Conservation Genetics. 18: 1481-1487