Electrophoretic analysis of proteins yielded evidence on the relationships of species of cranes and on genetic diversity within populations of some species. Diversity within the Greater Sandhill crane and a Florida population of the Florida Sandhill crane was similar to that of most other vertebrates, but diversity was low in the Mississippi Sandhill crane, in the Okefenokee population of the Florida Sandhill crane, and within the Siberian and Sarus cranes. Diversity was surprisingly high among whooping cranes, whose number dropped to less than 25 early in this century. Phylogenetic analysis, using both character state and distance algorithms, yielded highly concordant trees for the 15 species. The African crowned cranes (Balearica) were widely divergent from all other cranes. Species of Anthropoides, Bugeranus, and Grus clustered closely but sorted into two lineages: a Whooper Group consisted of the whooping, common, hooded, black-necked, white-naped, and red-crowned cranes of genus Grus; and a Sandhill Group included the Sandhill, Siberian, Sarus, and Brolga cranes of genus Grus, the wattled crane of genus Bugeranus, and the Demoiselle and blue cranes of genus Anthropoides.
Additional publication details
Allozyme evidence for crane systematics and polymorphisms within populations of Sandhill, Sarus, Siberian and Whooping Cranes