My paper on the phylogeography of the American black bear (sub) was recently published. Phylogeography is the study of the historic processes that shape the contemporary distribution of a species’ genetic diversity. This means we can reconstruct how species moved across their range to come to their current distribution by looking at their genetics. Populations that diverged from each other recently will have more similar genetic signatures than populations that diverged from each other longer ago. We can also tell when a population is the product of two populations mixing together, which we call admixture.

While attending a conference this summer, Beth Shaprio spoke about the unique phylogeography of brown bears on the ABC Islands of Alaska; specifically that ABC brown bears have polar bear mitochondrial genomes. After her talk, I was frequently asked if black bears from the Alexander Archipelago (which includes the ABC Islands) have a similar story…

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