Phylogenetics and Population Structure of the Prairie Falcon

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Understanding between- and within-species genetic variability can help managers identify species and populations of conservation interest.

Genetic variation is a requirement for species to respond spatially and temporally variable environments, yet it is unclear whether prairie falcons in the western United States represent a randomly mating population or genetically distinct units that should be managed separately. To address knowledge gaps related to genetics studies of the prairie falcon, researchers used tools to describe genetic diversity in prairie falcon populations in the western USA and relative to other species. They found evidence of a single, randomly mating population of prairie falcons, with some individuals dispersing in relatively rare long-distance events that may promote gene flow. Findings imply that management actions undertaken to benefit local populations have the potential to influence the species as a whole. This study illustrates how genomic resources can shed light on genetic variability in understudied species.

Doyle, J.M., Bell, D.A., Bloom, P.H., Emmons, G., Fesnock, A., Katzner, T.E., Lapre, L., Leonard, K., SanMiguel, P., Westerman, R., DeWoody, J.A., 2018, New insights into the phylogenetics and population structure of the prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus): BMC Genomics, v. 19, p. 233, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-018-4615-z.

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