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  1. Abstract

    During the Late Pleistocene, major parts of North America were periodically covered by ice sheets. However, there are still questions about whether ice‐free refugia were present in the Alexander Archipelago along the Southeast (SE) Alaska coast during the last glacial maximum (LGM). Numerous subfossils have been recovered from caves in SE Alaska, including American black (Ursus americanus) and brown (U. arctos) bears, which today are found in the Alexander Archipelago but are genetically distinct from mainland bear populations. Hence, these bear species offer an ideal system to investigate long‐term occupation, potential refugial survival and lineage turnover. Here, we present genetic analyses based on 99 new complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient and modern brown and black bears spanning the last ~45,000 years. Black bears form two SE Alaskan subclades, one preglacial and another postglacial, that diverged >100,000 years ago. All postglacial ancient brown bears are closely related to modern brown bears in the archipelago, while a single preglacial brown bear is found in a distantly related clade. A hiatus in the bear subfossil record around the LGM and the deep split of their pre‐ and postglacial subclades fail to support a hypothesis of continuous occupancy in SE Alaska throughout the LGM for either species. Our results are consistent with an absence of refugia along the SE Alaska coast, but indicate that vegetation quickly expanded after deglaciation, allowing bears to recolonize the area after a short‐lived LGM peak.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Understanding both sides of host–parasite relationships can provide more complete insights into host and parasite biology in natural systems. For example, phylogenetic and population genetic comparisons between a group of hosts and their closely associated parasites can reveal patterns of host dispersal, interspecies interactions, and population structure that might not be evident from host data alone. These comparisons are also useful for understanding factors that drive host–parasite coevolutionary patterns (e.g., codivergence or host switching) over different periods of time. However, few studies have compared the evolutionary histories between multiple groups of parasites from the same group of hosts at a regional geographic scale. Here, we used genomic data to compare phylogenomic and population genomic patterns of Alaska ptarmigan and grouse species (Aves: Tetraoninae) and two genera of their associated feather lice:LagopoecusandGoniodes. We used whole‐genome sequencing to obtain hundreds of genes and thousands of single‐nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for the lice and double‐digest restriction‐associated DNA sequences to obtain SNPs from Alaska populations of two species of ptarmigan. We found that both genera of lice have some codivergence with their galliform hosts, but these relationships are primarily characterized by host switching and phylogenetic incongruence. Population structure was also uncorrelated between the hosts and lice. These patterns suggest that grouse, and ptarmigan in particular, share habitats and have likely had historical and ongoing dispersal within Alaska. However, the two genera of lice also have sufficient dissimilarities in the relationships with their hosts to suggest there are other factors, such as differences in louse dispersal ability, that shape the evolutionary patterns with their hosts.

     
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  3. Abstract

    Environmental conditions in the Chukchi Sea are changing rapidly and may alter the abundance and distribution of marine species and their benthic prey. We used a metabarcoding approach to identify potentially important prey taxa from Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) fecal samples (n= 87). Bivalvia was the most dominant class of prey (66% of all normalized counts) and occurred in 98% of the samples. Polychaeta and Gastropoda occurred in 70% and 62% of the samples, respectively. The remaining nine invertebrate classes comprised <21% of all normalized counts. The common occurrence of these three prey classes is consistent with examinations of walrus stomach contents. Despite these consistencies, biases in the metabarcoding approach to determine diet from feces have been highlighted in other studies and require further study, in addition to biases that may have arisen from our opportunistic sampling. However, this noninvasive approach provides accurate identification of prey taxa from degraded samples and could yield much‐needed information on shifts in walrus diet in a rapidly changing Arctic.

     
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  4. Abstract

    Anthropogenic alterations to landscape structure and composition can have significant impacts on biodiversity, potentially leading to species extinctions. Population‐level impacts of landscape change are mediated by animal behaviors, in particular dispersal behavior. Little is known about the dispersal habits of rails (Rallidae) due to their cryptic behavior and tendency to occupy densely vegetated habitats. The effects of landscape structure on the movement behavior of waterbirds in general are poorly studied due to their reputation for having high dispersal abilities. We used a landscape genetic approach to test hypotheses of landscape effects on dispersal behavior of the Hawaiian gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), an endangered subspecies endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. We created a suite of alternative resistance surfaces representing biologically plausible a priori hypotheses of how gallinules might navigate the landscape matrix and ranked these surfaces by their ability to explain observed patterns in genetic distance among 12 populations on the island of O`ahu. We modeled effective distance among wetland locations on all surfaces using both cumulative least‐cost‐path and resistance‐distance approaches and evaluated relative model performance using Mantel tests, a causal modeling approach, and the mixed‐model maximum‐likelihood population‐effects framework. Across all genetic markers, simulation methods, and model comparison metrics, surfaces that treated linear water features like streams, ditches, and canals as corridors for gallinule movement outperformed all other models. This is the first landscape genetic study on the movement behavior of any waterbird species to our knowledge. Our results indicate that lotic water features, including drainage infrastructure previously thought to be of minimal habitat value, contribute to habitat connectivity in this listed subspecies.

     
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