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Genetic Variation in the Midcontinental Population of Sandhill Cranes, Grus canadensis

By Jessica L. Petersen, Richard Bischof, Gary L. Krapu and Allen L. Szalanski


Three subspecies of sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) are recognized in the Mid-continental population, the lesser (Grus c. canadensis), Canadian (G. c. rowani), and greater (G. c. tabida). Blood samples collected on the population’s primary spring staging area in Nebraska, U.S.A., were used to resolve the genetic rela-tionship among these subspecies. Phylogenetic analysis of 27 G. canadensis, by DNA sequencing of a 675 bp region of the mtDNA, supports the subspecies des-ignations of G. c. canadensis and G. c. tabida. G. c. rowani individuals were intermediate with each of the other two subspecies. Genetic divergence ranged from 6.5 to 14.5 % between G. c. canadensis and G. c. tabida, 0.5 to 6.6 % within G. c. canadensis, and 0.1 to 6.0 % within G. c. tabida. Sufficient DNA for analy-sis was obtained from shed feathers indicating a source of genetic material that does not require the capture or sacrifice of the birds. Other genetic markers and methods, including satellite telemetry, are required for obtaining detailed informa-tion on crane distributions as needed to establish effective management units for the MCP. KEY WORDS: Grus canadensis; sandhill crane; genetic variation; Midcontinental population; mtDNA

Year: 2001
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