Range-wide genetic differentiation among North American great gray owls (Strix nebulosa) reveals a distinct lineage restricted to the Sierra Nevada, California

Joshua M. Hull, John J. Keane, Wesley K. Savage, Steven A. Godwin, Jo Ann Shafer, Eric P. Jepsen, Rick Gerhardt, Chris Stermer, Holly B Ernest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Investigations of regional genetic differentiation are essential for describing phylogeographic patterns and informing management efforts for species of conservation concern. In this context, we investigated genetic diversity and evolutionary relationships among great gray owl (Strix nebulosa) populations in western North America, which includes an allopatric range in the southern Sierra Nevada in California. Based on a total dataset consisting of 30 nuclear microsatellite DNA loci and 1938-base pairs of mitochondrial DNA, we found that Pacific Northwest sampling groups were recovered by frequency and Bayesian analyses of microsatellite data and each population sampled, except for western Canada, showed evidence of recent population bottlenecks and low effective sizes. Bayesian and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses of sequence data indicated that the allopatric Sierra Nevada population is also a distinct lineage with respect to the larger species range in North America; we suggest a subspecies designation for this lineage should be considered (Strix nebulosa yosemitensis). Our study underscores the importance of phylogeographic studies for identifying lineages of conservation concern, as well as the important role of Pleistocene glaciation events in driving genetic differentiation of avian fauna.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-221
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Volume56
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Divergence times
  • Great gray owl
  • Phylogeny
  • Pleistocene
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Strix nebulosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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