Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology

San Pablo, CA, United States

Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology

San Pablo, CA, United States
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PubMed | Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, University of America, West Virginia University and Purdue University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2014

Biologists routinely use molecular markers to identify conservation units, to quantify genetic connectivity, to estimate population sizes, and to identify targets of selection. Many imperiled eagle populations require such efforts and would benefit from enhanced genomic resources. We sequenced, assembled, and annotated the first eagle genome using DNA from a male golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) captured in western North America. We constructed genomic libraries that were sequenced using Illumina technology and assembled the high-quality data to a depth of 40x coverage. The genome assembly includes 2,552 scaffolds >10 Kb and 415 scaffolds >1.2 Mb. We annotated 16,571 genes that are involved in myriad biological processes, including such disparate traits as beak formation and color vision. We also identified repetitive regions spanning 92 Mb (6% of the assembly), including LINES, SINES, LTR-RTs and DNA transposons. The mitochondrial genome encompasses 17,332 bp and is 91% identical to the Mountain Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus nipalensis). Finally, the data reveal that several anonymous microsatellites commonly used for population studies are embedded within protein-coding genes and thus may not have evolved in a neutral fashion. Because the genome sequence includes 800,000 novel polymorphisms, markers can now be chosen based on their proximity to functional genes involved in migration, carnivory, and other biological processes.


Doyle J.M.,Purdue University | Katzner T.E.,West Virginia University | Katzner T.E.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Bloom P.H.,Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Biologists routinely use molecular markers to identify conservation units, to quantify genetic connectivity, to estimate population sizes, and to identify targets of selection. Many imperiled eagle populations require such efforts and would benefit from enhanced genomic resources. We sequenced, assembled, and annotated the first eagle genome using DNA from a male golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) captured in western North America. We constructed genomic libraries that were sequenced using Illumina technology and assembled the high-quality data to a depth of ∼40x coverage. The genome assembly includes 2,552 scaffolds >10 Kb and 415 scaffolds >1.2 Mb. We annotated 16,571 genes that are involved in myriad biological processes, including such disparate traits as beak formation and color vision. We also identified repetitive regions spanning 92 Mb (∼6% of the assembly), including LINES, SINES, LTR-RTs and DNA transposons. The mitochondrial genome encompasses 17,332 bp and is ∼91% identical to the Mountain Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus nipalensis). Finally, the data reveal that several anonymous microsatellites commonly used for population studies are embedded within protein-coding genes and thus may not have evolved in a neutral fashion. Because the genome sequence includes ∼800,000 novel polymorphisms, markers can now be chosen based on their proximity to functional genes involved in migration, carnivory, and other biological processes. © 2014 Doyle et al.


Cooper D.S.,and Cooper Inc. | Hall U.S.,Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology | Searcy A.J.,Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology
Western Birds | Year: 2014

The Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) is a polytypic species widespread in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. Though closer in plumage characteristics to the desert subspecies anthonyi, populations resident in coastal sage scrub on the coastal slope of Ventura County and Los Angeles County occupy an ecological niche more similar to that of the more southerly subspecies sandiegensis. Because of fragmentation of habitat associated with urbanization, the populations on southern California's coastal slope are almost entirely isolated from those of the deserts, and apparently from each other. They are declining precipitously for reasons not entirely understood but certainly related to loss, fragmentation, and degradation of suitable habitat. In 2012, we organized a volunteer effort to map the entire population in Ventura County and found 111 active, accessible territories with at least one adult or a fresh nest. Additional areas to which we did not have access could raise this total number to 166 territories county-wide. While historically the species occurred somewhat more widely in the eastern portion of the county, all active territories now appear to be restricted to a narrow band of cactus-rich scrub at the far western edge of the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills, from Point Mugu northeast through Thousand Oaks to the west side of Simi Valley, roughly tracking the distribution of large patches of prickly-pear (Opuntia spp.) and coast cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera).


PubMed | Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Purdue University, 700 Universe Boulevard, U.S. Geological Survey and 2 more.
Type: | Journal: Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology | Year: 2016

Renewable energy production is expanding rapidly despite mostly unknown environmental effects on wildlife and habitats. We used genetic and stable isotope data collected from Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) killed at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) in California in demographic models to test hypotheses about the geographic extent and demographic consequences of fatalities caused by renewable energy facilities. Geospatial analyses of


Peer B.D.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Peer B.D.,University of California at Santa Barbara | Peer B.D.,Western Illinois University | Kuehn M.J.,University of California at Santa Barbara | And 3 more authors.
Biology Letters | Year: 2011

The fate of host defensive behaviour in the absence of selection from brood parasitism is critical to long-term host-parasite coevolution. We investigated whether New World Bohemian waxwings Bombycilla garrulus that are allopatric from brown-headed cowbird Molothrus ater and common cuckoo Cuculus canorus parasitism have retained egg rejection behaviour. We found that egg rejection was expressed by 100 per cent of Bohemian waxwings. Our phylogeny revealed that Bohemian and Japanese waxwings Bombycilla japonica were sister taxa, and this clade was sister to the cedar waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum. In addition, there was support for a split between Old and New World Bohemian waxwings. Our molecular clock estimates suggest that egg rejection may have been retained for 2.8-3.0Myr since NewWorld Bohemian waxwings inherited it from their common ancestor with the rejecter cedar waxwings. These results support the 'single trajectory' model of host-brood parasite coevolution that once hosts evolve defences, they are retained, forcing parasites to become more specialized over time. © 2011 The Royal Society.


Poessel S.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Bloom P.H.,Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology | Braham M.A.,West Virginia University | Katzner T.E.,U.S. Geological Survey
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2016

Animal movements can determine the population dynamics of wildlife. We used telemetry data to provide insight into the causes and consequences of local and long-distance movements of multiple age classes of conservation-reliant golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in the foothills and mountains near Tehachapi, California. We estimated size and habitat-related correlates of 324 monthly 95 % home ranges and 317 monthly 50 % core areas for 25 birds moving locally over 2.5 years. We also calculated daily, hourly, and total distances traveled for the five of these birds that engaged in long-distance movements. Mean (±SD) monthly home-range size was 253.6 ± 429.4 km2 and core-area size was 26.4 ± 49.7 km2. Consistent with expectations, space used by pre-adults increased with age and was season-dependent but, unexpectedly, was not sex-dependent. For all ages and sexes, home ranges and core areas were dominated by both forest & woodland and shrubland & grassland habitat types. When moving long distances, eagles traveled up to 1588.4 km (1-way) in a season at highly variable speeds (63.7 ± 69.0 km/day and 5.2 ± 10.4 km/h) that were dependent on time of day. Patterns of long-distance movements by eagles were determined by age, yet these movements had characteristics of more than one previously described movement category (migration, dispersal, etc.). Our results provide a context for differentiating among types of movement behaviors and their population-level consequences and, thus, have implications for management and conservation of golden eagle populations. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (outside the USA)


Moss E.H.R.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Hipkiss T.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Ecke F.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Dettki H.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Raptor Research | Year: 2014

We studied home-range size using 15 GPS-tracked adult Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in nine different territories, two in 2011 and those two as well as seven others in 2012, in northern Sweden. Home ranges were represented by 50 and 95% minimum convex polygons (MCPs) and 50, 80 and 95% kernel density estimates (KDE). In 2012, 95% MCPs ranged from 100-525 km2 for males (n = 8), and 60-605 km2 for females (n = 7). Mean home-range sizes for the eagles in our study were among the largest reported. Moreover, we found an inverse relationship between home-range size and the percent of clear-cuts within the range. Together these suggest that eagles in Sweden may compensate for low availability of hunting areas, e.g., lower proportion of clear-cuts in their range, by expanding their range. Some eagles displayed different forms of post-nesting movements (i.e., movements not related to breeding) during the normal breeding season in addition to the ranging within their home ranges: (i) long-distance directional movements (n = 3), (ii) intermediate-distance movements (n = 4), and (iii) movements within an unusually large home range (n = 1). These movements varied considerably, with some eagles travelling nearly 700 km north into northern Finland and Norway. No adults with transmitters reproduced successfully in 2012; in four territories, nests failed and in five territories occupied by pairs we did not know if eggs were laid. Post-nesting movements, which occurred after nesting or breeding failure, occurred in a year with apparently low food supply and may have been triggered by local food shortage. © 2014 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.


Pike J.E.,18744 Beach Blvd. | Garrett K.L.,Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County | Searcy A.J.,Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology
Western Birds | Year: 2014

The California Bird Records Committee reached decisions on 280 records involving 525 individuals of 88 species and two species pairs documented since the 37th report (Nelson et al. 2013), endorsing 226 records of 471 individuals. The recent addition of the Scaly-breasted Munia (formerly Nutmeg Mannikin, Lonchura punctulata) to the state list, and the split of the Sage Sparrow into the Sagebrush Sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis) and Bell's Sparrow (A. belli), combined with first accepted state records of the Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus), Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiatus), and Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) outlined in this report, brings California's total list of accepted species to 654, 11 of which, including the munia, are established introductions. Other notable records detailed in this report are of the Common Crane (Grus grus), Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), and Varied Bunting (Passerina versicolor).


Wiley J.W.,Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology
Journal of Raptor Research | Year: 2010

The Ashy-faced Owl (Tyto glaucops) is endemic to Hispaniola, where the Barn Owl (T. alba) became established after ca. 1950. I examined 8322 vertebrate prey of the two species, using regurgitated pellets and prey remains from 12 localities in five habitats in the Dominican Republic to determine diets and feeding-niche characteristics of the owls. Owl diets differed among prey classes in frequency and biomass. Mammals, mainly introduced rodents, predominated in the diets of Ashy-faced Owls (52.0% frequency, 73.9% biomass) and Barn Owls (76.7% frequency, 90.7% biomass), with bats forming a substantial proportion for both species (Ashy-faced Owl: 11.1% frequency, 2.6% mass; Barn Owl: 12.2% frequency, 2.2% mass). Birds made up a greater proportion of Ashy-faced Owl prey (28.8% frequency, 14.8% mass) than of Barn Owl prey (12.3% frequency, 5.1% mass). Reptiles and amphibians were unequally represented in Ashy-faced (19.2% frequency, 11.3% mass) and Barn (11.1% frequency, 4.3% mass) owl diets. Niche overlap was moderate overall (α = 0.60). Ashy-faced Owl prey materials contained 125 vertebrate species, whereas Barn Owl materials included 114 species, with 92 species in common between the two owls. The Ashy-faced Owl had a more diverse prey base (H9 = 3.04, D = 6.32, J = 0.610) than did the Barn Owl (H9 = 2.21, D = 2.93, J = 0.444). I could not determine whether niche overlap resulted in competition between the two owl species. © 2010 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.

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