Journal of Heredity, 104(1):36-46, 2013. Paper abstract bibtex
Breeding site fidelity can be determined by environmental features, which depending on their heterogeneous distribution may shape the genetic landscape of a population. We used 10 microsatellite loci to study the genetic variation of 83 bluethroats (Luscinia svecica azuricollis) across 14 localities within the Spanish breeding population and assess the relative influence of different habitat characteristics (physiography and vegetation) on genetic differentiation. Based on the genetic variation of this population, we identified 3 geographically consistent genetic clusters that on average showed a higher genetic differentiation than among other north European populations, even those belonging to different subspecies. The inferred genetic clusters occurred in geographic areas that significantly differed in elevation. The highest genetic differentiation was observed between sites at different mountain ranges, as well as between the highest altitude sites in the northeastern locale, whereas vegetation type did not explain a significant percentage of genetic variation. The lack of correlation between geographic and genetic distances suggests that this pattern of genetic structure cannot be explained as a consequence of isolation by distance. Finally, we discuss the importance of preserving areas encompassing high environmental and genetic variation as a means of preserving evolutionary processes and adaptive potential.