Conservation genetics of the red-cockaded woodpecker
Alstad, Travis I
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This project investigated the genetic population structure of the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis), specifically as it pertains to translocations at three restoration sites and one donor population. We calculated F-statistics in an AMOVA framework using microsatellite loci and mitochondrial haplotypes to assess population differentiation and inbreeding in the red-cockaded woodpecker. The results of the study suggested that range-wide translocations can mitigate some of the detrimental effects associated with population fragmentation. However, the results also showed that there are still sufficient reasons to be concerned about the genetic health of small isolated populations of P. borealis. We developed both nuclear microsatellite and mitochondrial genetic markers for this study and these markers could be useful for future studies of red-cockaded woodpecker population characteristics and ecology. In addition, we developed two DNA based methods for sexing P. borealis that could be useful for studies of sex-ratio as well as monitoring purposes.