Data from: New insights into population structure of the European golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) revealed by microsatellite analysis
Connectivity between golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) populations is poorly understood. Field studies exploring the natal dispersal picture this raptor as a philopatric species, but with the ability to roam far. However little is known about the species’ population structure in Europe. Our study is based on 14 microsatellite loci and is complemented by novel and previously published mitochondrial control region DNA data. The present dataset includes 121 eagles from Scotland, Norway, Finland, Estonia, the Mediterranean and Alpine region. Our sampling focused on the Alpine and Mediterranean populations as both mtDNA lineages found in golden eagles – the Holarctic and the Mediterranean – are known to co-occur there. Cluster analyses of nuclear DNA support a shallow split into northern and southern populations in Europe, similar to the distribution of the two mtDNA lineages with the Holarctic one occurring in the north and the Mediterranean predominating in the south. Additionally, Scotland shows significant differentiation and low relative migration levels that indicate isolation from the mainland populations. Alpine and Mediterranean golden eagles do not show nuclear structure corresponding to divergent mtDNA lineages. This indicates that the presence of northern Holarctic mitochondrial haplotypes in the Alps and the Mediterranean is due to past admixture rather than recent long-distance dispersal.