US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



The Condor, Vol . 110, Nu mber 3, pages 493–499. ISSN0010-5422, electronic ISSN 1938-5129 DOI: 10.1525/cond.2008.8507


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Moountainuntai Plloverove (Charadrius montanus) is a specie s of conservation concern that has experienced significant habitat loss an d population decline. This, couple d with previous observation s that the species exhibits strong fidelity to breeding grounds, suggests that breeding population s may be genetically differentiate d an d possibly suffer from reduced genetic variation associate d with relatively small population sizes. A previous genetic study comparing mitochondrial DNA sequences of plover s in Montana and Colorado found high level s of genetic variability and very little genetic differentiation among breeding locale s. Because mitochondrial DNA can track only female movement s an d is sample d from only one locus, we used 14 nu clear micro satellite lo ci to further examine population structure, there by bot h documenting male movement s and providing a more comprehensive vie w of genetic structure. We found no significant differences among breeding population s. The most likely number of unique genetic clusters was one, suggesting that all sampled breeding locations comprise a single relatively homogenous gene pool. Level s of genetic diversity was similar across all four population s, with the greatest diver sit y in the southern plains population. We speculate that the lack of detectable genetic differentiation among population s is due to sufficient gene flow among breeding population s that might en sue if at least some pair bon ds are formed when birds form mixed flocks on wintering grounds. This study corroborate s and expands upon the findings of a previous mitochondrial DNA study providing a more comprehensive vie w of Mountain Plover population structure .