Presence of genetic structure between central and climate threatened trailing-edge populations of Canada Warblers (Cardellina canadensis)
Ferrari, Brittney Anne
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The Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) is one of many species threatened by climate change. Populations at the southern periphery of the species range are restricted to habitats above 1000m elevation in the Appalachian Mountains. With limited suitable habitat and opportunity for shifts in elevation, the future of these trailing-edge populations is uncertain. Losing such populations could result in a loss of genetic diversity and genetically distinct populations. Ten microsatellites were used to characterize the genetic structure and diversity of Canada Warblers and determine if peripheral populations are genetically unique. Results indicate that the peripheral population in North Carolina is genetically distinct from populations in New Hampshire and Canada and may harbor more genetic diversity. Consequently, losing these trailing-edge populations could negatively affect the species overall. This research can be used to inform conservation planning of Canada Warblers and may be informative for other species with similar distributions and environmental pressures.