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Population structure and space-use of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in Hudson Bay Open Access


Other title
polar bear
population structure
Hudson Bay
Ursus maritimus
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Viengkone, Michelle
Supervisor and department
Derocher, Andrew E. (Biological Sciences)
Davis, Corey S. (Biological Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Nielsen, Scott (Renewable Resources)
McKenzie, Deborah (Biological Sciences)
Department of Biological Sciences
Systematics and Evolution
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Traditionally, population delineation has been determined using mark-recapture, band returns, and more recently, telemetry, geologgers and genetics. But telemetric and genetic population structure data have rarely been examined concurrently to explore differences and similarities. I define a population as a species global range, which contains local interbreeding subpopulations possessing genetic, spatial and demographic discontinuity. Spatial distribution during the breeding season is likely to structure populations genetically. I investigate the utility of both population genetics and breeding season telemetry data to examine subpopulation structure. Genetic population structure was examined in 414 polar bears (Ursus maritimus) caught throughout Hudson Bay using two genetic marker systems, microsatellites and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). SNPs detected a larger number of biologically meaningful subpopulations, with higher proportions of strongly assigned individuals and more precise estimates of ancestry. SNPs identified four genetic clusters that differ from the subpopulation designations currently used for the region. Spatial structure was assessed by comparing utilization distributions (UDs) during the breeding season from two perspectives: 1) by grouping individuals by the management subpopulation where individuals were caught and 2) by grouping individuals by the genetic cluster they strongly assign to. A combination of high-resolution SNP information and geographic positioning system-satellite telemetry data from 62 female polar bears from three subpopulations of Hudson Bay displayed reduced shared space-use between grouped UDs based on genetic assignment than those formed by capture location. Combining genetic and telemetric data provides an alternative method for understanding subpopulation delineation.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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