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

  • Author / Creator
    Viengkone, Michelle
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Biological Sciences
  • Specialization
    • Systematics and Evolution
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Derocher, Andrew E. (Biological Sciences)
    • Davis, Corey S. (Biological Sciences)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • McKenzie, Deborah (Biological Sciences)
    • Nielsen, Scott (Renewable Resources)