Clark’s nutcrackers are important seed dispersers for two widely-distributed western North American conifers, whitebark pine and limber pine, which are declining due to outbreaks of mountain pine beetle and white pine blister rust. Because nutcracker seed dispersal services are key to maintaining viable populations of these imperiled pines, knowledge of movement patterns of Clark’s nutcrackers helps managers understand local extinction risks for these trees. To investigate population structure within Clark’s nutcracker, we developed primers for and characterized 13 polymorphic microsatellite loci. In a screen of 22 individuals from one population, levels of variability ranged from 6 to 15 alleles. No loci were found to be linked, although 4 loci revealed significant departures from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium and evidence of null alleles. These microsatellite loci will enable population genetic analyses of Clark’s nutcrackers, which could provide insights into the spatial relationships between nutcrackers and the trees they help disperse.
Additional Publication Details
Development and characterization of thirteen microsatellite loci in Clark's nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)