No evidence for an association between Clock gene allelic variation and migration timing in a long-distance migratory shorebird (Limosa lapponica baueri)

Angela M. Parody-Merino*, Phil F. Battley, Jesse R. Conklin, Andrew E. Fidler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The gene Clock is a key part of the Core Circadian Oscillator, and the length of the polyglutamine (poly-Q) repeat sequence in Clock (ClkpolyQcds) has been proposed to be associated with the timing of annual cycle events in birds. We tested whether variation in ClkpolyQcds corresponds to variation in migration timing in the bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri), a species in which individuals show strong annual consistency in their migration timing despite the New Zealand population migrating across a 5-week period. We describe allelic variation of the ClkpolyQcds in 135 godwits over-wintering in New Zealand (N.Z.) and investigate whether polymorphism in this region is associated with northward migration timing (chronophenotype) from N.Z. or (for 32 birds tracked by geolocator) after the primary stopover in Asia. Six Clock alleles were detected (Q(7)-Q(12)) and there was substantial variation between individuals (heterozygosity of 0.79). There was no association between ClkpolyQcds polymorphism and migration timing from N.Z. The length of the shorter Clock allele was related to migration timing from Asia, though this relationship arose largely from just a few northern-breeding birds with longer alleles. Other studies show no consistent associations between ClkpolyQcds and migration timing in birds, although Clock may be associated with breeding latitude in some species (as an adaptation to photoperiodic regime). Apparent relationships with migration timing could reflect latitude-related variation in migration timing, rather than Clock directly affecting migration timing. On current evidence, ClkpolyQcds is not a strong candidate for driving migration timing in migratory birds generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-859
Number of pages17
JournalOecologia
Volume191
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2019

Keywords

  • Clock
  • Polyglutamine
  • Circannual
  • Phenology
  • Migration
  • Bar-tailed godwit
  • CANDIDATE GENE
  • LATITUDINAL CLINE
  • CLIMATE-CHANGE
  • PERSONALITY VARIATION
  • CIRCADIAN-RHYTHMS
  • BREEDING LATITUDE
  • ANNUAL CYCLE
  • GREAT TITS
  • POLYMORPHISM
  • BIRD

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