Local survival of pied flycatcher males and females in a pollution gradient of a Cu smelter

Section of Ecology, University of Turku, FI-20014 Turku, Finland
Environmental Pollution (Impact Factor: 4.14). 06/2009; 157(6):1857-1861. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2009.01.015
Source: PubMed


Survival is one of the most central population measures when the effects of the pollution are studied in natural bird populations. However, only few studies have actually measured rigorous survival estimates on adult birds. In recent years there has been a methodological advance in survival analyses by mark-recapture models. We modelled local survival (including mortality and emigration) with the program MARK in a population of a small insectivorous passerine bird, the pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), around a point source of heavy metals. The local survival of females in the polluted area was about 50% lower than in the other areas. Males, however, survived relatively well in the heavily polluted area, but showed somewhat lower survival in the moderately polluted area. Different pollution effects between two sexes might be due to pollution-related differences in reproductive effort in females and males, and/or more intensive uptake of heavy metals by laying females.

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Available from: Eugen Belskii
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    ABSTRACT: Recently it has been recognized that evolutionary aspects play a major role in conservation issues of a species. In this thesis I have combined evolutionary research with conservation studies to provide new insight into these fields. The study object of this thesis is the house sparrow, a species that has features that makes it interesting for this type of study. The house sparrow has been ubiquitous almost all over the world. Even though being still abundant, several countries have reported major declines. These declines have taken place in a relatively short time covering both urban and rural habitats. In Finland this species has declined by more than two thirds in just over two decades. In addition, as the house sparrow lives only in human inhabited areas it can also raise public awareness to conservation issues. I used both an extensive museum collection of house sparrows collected in 1980s from all over Finland as well as samples collected in 2009 from 12 of the previously collected localities. I used molecular techniques to study neutral genetic variation within and genetic differentiation between the study populations. This knowledge I then combined with data gathered on morphometric measurements. In addition I analyzed eight heavy metals from the livers of house sparrows that lived in either rural or urban areas in the 1980s and evaluated the role of heavy metal pollution as a possible cause of the declines. Even though dispersal of house sparrows is limited I found that just as the declines started in 1980s the house sparrows formed a genetically panmictic population on the scale of the whole Finland. When compared to Norway, where neutral genetic divergence has been found even with small geographic distances, I concluded that this difference would be due to contrasting landscapes. In Finland the landscape is rather homogeneous facilitating the movements of these birds and maintaining gene flow even with the low dispersal. To see whether the declines have had an effect on the neutral genetic variation of the populations I did a comparison between the historical and contemporary genetic data. I showed that even though genetic diversity has not decreased due to the drastic declines the populations have indeed become more differentiated from each other. This shows that even in a still quite abundant species the declines can have an effect on the genetic variation. It is shown that genetic diversity and differentiation may approach their new equilibriums at different rates. This emphasizes the importance of studying both of them and if the latter has increased it should be taken as a warning sign of a possible loss of genetic diversity in the future. One of the factors suggested to be responsible for the house sparrow declines is heavy metal pollution. When studying the livers of house sparrows from 1980s I discovered higher levels of heavy metal concentrations in urban than rural habitats, but the levels of the metals were comparatively low and based on that heavy metal pollution does not seem to be a direct cause for the declines in Finland. However, heavy metals are known to decrease the amount of insects in urban areas and thus in the cities heavy metals may have an indirect effect on house sparrows. Although neutral genetic variation is an important tool for conservation genetics it does not tell the whole story. Since neutral genetic variation is not affected by selection, information can be one-sided. It is possible that even neutral genetic differentiation is low, there can be substantial variation in additive genetic traits indicating local adaptation. Therefore I performed a comparison between neutral genetic differentiation and phenotypic differentiation. I discovered that two traits out of seven are likely to be under directional selection, whereas the others could be affected by random genetic drift. Bergmann s rule may be behind the observed directional selection in wing length and body mass. These results highlight the importance of estimating both neutral and adaptive genetic variation. Evolutiivisten tekijöiden on viime aikoina huomattu olevan tärkeässä asemassa myös lajien suojelussa. Tässä väitöskirjassa olen yhdistänyt evolutiivisen ja luonnonsuojelullisen tutkimuksen löytääkseni uusia näkökulmia molempiin aloihin. Tämän tutkimuksen kohde on varpunen, jonka erityispiirteet tekevät siitä mielenkiintoisen lajin tämäntyyppiseen tutkimukseen. Varpunen on ollut yleinen lähes kaikkialla maailmassa. Vaikka se on vieläkin runsaslukuinen, se on vähentynyt huomattavasti useissa maissa. Nämä kantojen laskut ovat tapahtuneet niin maaseutu- kuin kaupunkiympäristöissäkin. Suomessa tämän lajin kanta on vähentynyt yli kaksi kolmasosaa kahden vuosikymmenen aikana. Koska varpunen esiintyy vain ihmisen kanssa samassa elinympäristössä, laajempi yleisö on myös kiinnostunut tästä lajista. Käytin tässä tutkimuksessa sekä kattavaa museon varpuskokoelmaa, joka on kerätty 1980-luvulla ympäri Suomea, että vuonna 2009 kahdeltatoista samalta paikkakunnalta kerättyjä näytteitä. Käytin molekyylibiologian menetelmiä tutkiakseni neutraalia geneettistä muuntelua populaatioiden sisällä sekä sen eriytymistä populaatioiden välillä. Tämän tiedon yhdistin linnuista otettuihin ulkoisiin mittoihin. Lisäksi analysoin kahdeksan raskasmetallin pitoisuuksia varpusten maksoista, jotka elivät joko maaseutu- tai kaupunkiympäristöissä 1980-luvulla ja arvioin raskasmetallisaastutuksen mahdollista vaikutusta varpusen taantumiseen. Varpunen muodosti 80-luvulla käytännössä yhden populaation koko Suomen alueella, vaikka lajin ei tiedetä dispersoivan paljoa. Norjassa geneettistä eriytymistä on varpusella löydetty lyhyemmillä maantieteellisillä etäisyyksillä. Niinpä päättelin, että tämä ero johtuu erilaisista maastonmuodoista. Suomessa maasto on melko yhtenäistä, mikä helpottaa varpusen liikkumista ja näin ollen pitää yllä geenivirtaa matalasta dispersoinnista huolimatta. Nähdäkseni, ovatko kantojen laskut vaikuttaneet geneettisen muuntelun määrään varpuspopulaatioissa, vertasin historiallista aineistoa nykyaikana kerättyyn. Osoitin, että vaikka geneettisen muuntelun määrä ei ole vähentynyt, populaatiot ovat eriytyneet toisistaan. Tämä osoittaa, että taantumisella voi olla vaikutuksia runsaslukuiseenkin lajiin. Geneettinen muuntelu ja eriytyminen voivat lähestyä uusia tasapainotilojaan eri nopeuksilla. Tämä korostaa, miten tärkeää on tutkia molempia ja jos eriytyminen on kasvanut, se voi merkitä myös muuntelun vähenemistä tulevaisuudessa. Raskasmetallien on ehdotettu olevan varpusen vähenemisen taustalla. Tutkiessani raskasmetallipitoisuuksia 80-luvulla eläneiden varpusten maksoissa, löysin selvästi korkeammat pitoisuudet kaupunkiympäristön linnuista. Nämä pitoisuudet olivat kuitenkin pieniä verrattuna muihin vastaaviin tutkimuksiin ja näin ollen raskasmetallit eivät todennäköisesti ole aiheuttaneet suoraan varpusen taantumista Suomessa. On kuitenkin mahdollista, että ne vaikuttavat varpuseen epäsuorasti vähentämällä hyönteisravinnon määrää kaupunkialueilla. Vaikka neutraalin geneettisen muuntelun arviointi on tärkeää luonnonsuojelugenetiikassa, se ei välttämättä anna kokonaiskuvaa tilanteesta. Koska valinta ei vaikuta siihen, sen kautta saatu tieto voi olla yksipuolista. Vaikka neutraali geneettinen muuntelu on pientä, additiivisessa geneettisessä muuntelussa voi olla merkittävää muuntelua. Tämä viittaa sopeutumiseen paikallisiin oloihin. Vertasin näitä kahta muuntelun muotoa varpusissa ja havaitsin kahden ominaisuuden seitsemästä olevan suuntaavan valinnan vaikutuksen alaisena. Niinpä Bergmannin sääntö voi olla siiven pituuden ja painon muuntelun takana. Nämä tulokset painottavat sekä neutraalin että adaptiivisen geneettisen muuntelun tutkimista.
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