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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Genetic Toolkit for Assessment and Prediction of Population-Level Impacts of Bridge Construction on Birds

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Recent studies have highlighted alarming rates of declines in bird populations across the country. The State of California is home to over 650 resident and migrant avian species. Legislation for protecting these species has existed for over a century now, yet tools for identifying populations and understanding seasonal movement remain limited. Recently, genetic and genomic tools have provided a method for understanding population structure, allowing for more informed delineation of management units. The goal of this project was to create a genetic toolkit for identifying breeding populations and assigning individuals to those populations. Ultimately, such tools could be used to assess population-level impacts when there are conflicts with birds at infrastructure construction sites. As a test case, we sequenced entire genomes for 40 individual Anna’s hummingbirds (Calypte anna) from across the state. Based on this initial data, we found low levels of differentiation between sampled locations, suggesting that C. anna in California are not subdivided into different population units. However, there was a weak signal of geography suggesting there may be localized genetic differences in a small proportion of the genome. Follow-up work will focus on a broader sampling across the state of California to clarify any possible population subdivision or geographical patterns of differentiation.

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