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Probably the simplest but most crucial molecular analyses needed for conservation from the Northern Spotted Owl was to define its taxonomic status (Fig. 3). There had been millions of dollars of timber, jobs, and other sources riding on determining the limits of its range. Thus, it was crucial to decide if there were 1? species or subspecies to be viewed as for protection below the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In two studies (B) using 3 markers (mtDNA, microsatellites, and RAPDs), we discovered agreement for 3 subspecies: Northern (S. o. caurina), California (S. o. occidentalis), and Mexican (S. o. lucida) with evidence for subspecies hybridization where taxa met geographically (Haig et al. 2001, 2004a,b). The challenge of intraspecific Northern-California Spotted Owl hybrids complicated conservation action plans because the ESA only addresses issues for hybrids in captive scenarios (O'Brien and Mayr 1991). This became a bigger concern when we discovered evidence that Northern Spotted Owls had been hybridizing with Barred Owls (Strix varia) that had been immediately expanding their range in to the Pacific Northwest. Not recognizing how comprehensive this hybridization might be, we developed mtDNA, microsatellite, and AFLP markers to differentiate these taxa for use by law enforcement laboratories (Haig et al. 2004a,b; Funk et al. 2006, 2008a). Even right after the markers have been created, there was title= fpsyg.2014.00726 a legal conundrum as to how to deal with a bird that looked like an ESA-protected Northern Spotted Owl but genetically was a Barred Owl/Northern Spotted Owl hybrid. A little-used clause in the ESA (section four(e)) provided a possible resolution (Haig and Allendorf 2006). This `similarity of appearance' clause provides protection for species that are not listed but closely resemble an ESA-listed species. Understanding the genetic status of Northern Spotted Owls was the subsequent crucial step. We started by taking a landscape genetics method (Manel and Holdregger 2013) whereby we could examine the partnership amongst a random distribution Figure 3 (A) Northern Spotted Owl female and two older chicks of genes with a random distribution of geographic points (photo by Sheila Whitmore), (B) Distribution of sample web sites inside the across the range of the Northern Spotted Owl (Funk et al. range of the Northern Spotted Owl (from Funk et al. 2010) (Box three). 2008b). We didn't uncover substantial breaks in gene flow but we did obtain restrictions in gene flow in attributes such as the Cascade and Coast Variety mountains also as dry river valleys (Fig. three). A closer investigation into restricted gene flow indicated that Northern Spotted Owls all round had most likely undergone a considerable current population bottleneck (Funk et al. 2010). The results had been precisely the same when analyses had been broken down by region (e.g., Cascade Mountains, Olympic peninsula, and so forth.) and local populations. The bottleneck signature was strongest for owls in the Washington Cascades, an region known to become experiencing a substantial population decline (Forsman et al. 2011). In reality, when we compared our bottleneck benefits title= jir.2014.0026 for nearby populations with population development prices for the 14 demographic study regions monitored more than the past 20+ years, there was a robust correlation between a important population bottleneck and important decline in lambda (population growth rate) (Funk et al. 2010).

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