Evidence for population bottlenecks and subtle genetic structure in the yellow rail

The Condor
By: , and 



The Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracencis) is among the most enigmatic and least studied North American birds. Nesting exclusively in marshes and wetlands, it breeds largely east of the Rocky Mountains in the northern United States and Canada, but there is an isolated population in southern Oregon once believed extirpated. The degree of connectivity of the Oregon population with the main population is unknown. We used mitochondrial DNA sequences (mtDNA) and six microsatellite loci to characterize the Yellow Rail's genetic structure and diversity patterns in six areas. Our mtDNA-based analyses of genetic structure identified significant population differentiation, but pairwise comparison of regions identified no clear geographic trends. In contrast, microsatellites suggested subtle genetic structure differentiating the Oregon population from those in the five regions sampled in the Yellow Rail's main breeding range. The genetic diversity of the Oregon population was also the lowest of the six regions sampled, and Oregon was one of three regions that demonstrated evidence of recent population bottlenecks. Factors that produced population reductions may include loss of wetlands to development and agricultural conversion, drought, and wildfire. At this time, we are unable to determine if the high percentage (50%) of populations having experienced bottlenecks is representative of the Yellow Rail's entire range. Further genetic data from additional breeding populations will be required for this issue to be addressed.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evidence for population bottlenecks and subtle genetic structure in the yellow rail
Series title The Condor
DOI 10.1525/cond.2012.110055
Volume 114
Issue 1
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher Cooper Ornithological Society
Publisher location Waco, TX
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 13 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title The Condor
First page 100
Last page 112
Other Geospatial North America
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