The Use of Genetics for the Management of a Recovering Population: Temporal Assessment of Migratory Peregrine Falcons in North America
EDGEWOOD RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT AND ENGINEERING CENTER ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD
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Our ability to monitor populations or species that were once threatened or endangered and in the process of recovery is enhanced by using genetic methods to assess overall population stability and size over time. This can be accomplished most directly by obtaining genetic measures from temporally-spaced samples that reflect overall stability of the population as given by changes in genetic diversity levels allelic richness and heterozygosity, degree of population differentiation FST and DEST, and effective population size Ne. Primary goal of any recovery effort is to produce a longterm self-sustaining population these genetic measures provide a metric. The peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus tundrius and anatum was delisted in 1994 and 1999, respectively its abundance will be monitored every 3 years until 2015. Although U.S. Fish Wildlife Service makes a distinction between tundrius and anatum subspecies, our genetic results based on eleven microsatellite loci suggest limited differentiation that can be attributed to an isolation by distance relationship and warrant no delineation of these two subspecies in its northern latitudinal distribution. Using temporal samples collected at Padre Island, Texas during migration, no significant differences in genetic diversity or significant population differentiation in allele frequencies between time periods were observed and were indistinguishable from those obtained from breeding locations throughout their northern distribution. Estimates of harmonic mean Ne were variable and imprecise, but always 500 when employing multiple temporal genetic methods. These results suggest a stable or growing population, consistent with ongoing surveys. Therefore historic and continuing efforts to prevent the extinction of the peregrine falcon appear successful. The results also further highlight the importance of archiving samples and their use for continual assessment of population recovery and long-term viability.
- Genetic Engineering and Molecular Biology