With 40% of the European Black-tailed Godwit population breeding in The Netherlands, this country harbours internationally significant numbers of this species. However, ongoing agricultural intensification has resulted in the fragmentation of the population and drastic population declines since 1967. By establishing genetic diversity, genetic differentiation and gene flow on the basis of 12 microsatellites, we investigated whether the population genetic structure of the Dutch Black-tailed Godwit bears the marks of these changes. Genetic diversity appeared to be moderate, and Bayesian model-based analysis of individual genotypes revealed no clustering in the Dutch populations. This was supported by pairwise F-ST values and AMOVA, which indicated no differentiation among the nine breeding areas. Gene flow estimates were larger than "one migrant per generation" between sample locations, and no isolation by distance was demonstrated. Our results indicate the maintenance of moderate levels of genetic diversity and genetic connectivity between breeding sites throughout the Dutch Black-tailed Godwit breeding population. We suggest that the Dutch Black-tailed Godwit breeding areas should be managed as a single panmictic unit, much as it is presently done.
- Genetic differentiation Genetic diversity Gene flow Habitat fragmentation Microsatellites Negative population trends population-genetics software markers microsatellites management regression diversity program tests DNA Biodiversity & Conservation Genetics & Heredity