Genetic structure and viability selection in the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), a vagile raptor with a Holarctic distribution

Conservation Genetics
By: , and 

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Abstract

Molecular markers can reveal interesting aspects of organismal ecology and evolution, especially when surveyed in rare or elusive species. Herein, we provide a preliminary assessment of golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) population structure in North America using novel single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These SNPs included one molecular sexing marker, two mitochondrial markers, 85 putatively neutral markers that were derived from noncoding regions within large intergenic intervals, and 74 putatively nonneutral markers found in or very near protein-coding genes. We genotyped 523 eagle samples at these 162 SNPs and quantified genotyping error rates and variability at each marker. Our samples corresponded to 344 individual golden eagles as assessed by unique multilocus genotypes. Observed heterozygosity of known adults was significantly higher than of chicks, as was the number of heterozygous loci, indicating that mean zygosity measured across all 159 autosomal markers was an indicator of fitness as it is associated with eagle survival to adulthood. Finally, we used chick samples of known provenance to test for population differentiation across portions of North America and found pronounced structure among geographic sampling sites. These data indicate that cryptic genetic population structure is likely widespread in the golden eagle gene pool, and that extensive field sampling and genotyping will be required to more clearly delineate management units within North America and elsewhere.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Genetic structure and viability selection in the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), a vagile raptor with a Holarctic distribution
Series title Conservation Genetics
DOI 10.1007/s10592-016-0863-0
Volume 17
Issue 6
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 1307
Last page 1322