Genetic structure among remnant populations of a migratory passerine, the Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

H.H. van Oosten*, Jakob C. Mueller, Jente Ottenburghs, Christiaan Both, Bart Kempenaers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Continuous animal populations often become fragmented due to anthropogenic habitat alterations. These small, fragmented populations are fragile due to demographic and genetic factors, whereas immigration can enhance their long-term viability. Previously, we showed that high philopatry affected the local dynamics of three small and remnant subpopulations of Northern Wheatears in The Netherlands. Here, we show that these three populations together with an additional larger population in the European lowlands are highly genetically differentiated based on 22 microsatellite markers. In contrast, we found no evidence for differentiation using two mitochondrial DNA markers. An IMa2 analysis indicates that gene flow has occurred regularly among our sampled populations. As immigration of colour-ringed birds among our sampled populations is rare at best, our results suggest that the populations have recently become isolated from one another. Low dispersal rates in highly mobile birds may occur when suitable habitat becomes highly fragmented, and will accentuate stochastic demographic processes and inbreeding, both reducing population viability. As dispersal rates are low among populations of Northern Wheatears in The Netherlands, there is only a small probability of recolonization of habitat patches where populations have become locally extinct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-867
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • F
  • Gene flow
  • Genetic drift
  • Genetic structuring
  • Heterozygosity
  • IMa2
  • Microsatellite
  • MtDNA
  • Philopatry
  • Songbird


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetic structure among remnant populations of a migratory passerine, the Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this