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Phylogeography of the rare Australian endemic Grey Falcon Falco hypoleucos: implications for conservation



The Grey Falcon Falco hypoleucos is one of the world’s rarest raptors, with an estimated population size of fewer than 1,000 individuals. Our knowledge of threats posed to the Grey Falcon remains scant. Understanding the genetic variation in this species would help to assess its conservation status more realistically and its prospects for survival in a changing environment. We amplified the cytochrome b region of mitochondrial DNA from the feathers of 26 individuals captured from the wild across the distribution of the species and assessed the genetic diversity and spatial genetic structuring of the species. Genetic diversity was low, with only six haplotypes identified, but there was no evidence of a recent genetic bottleneck. No population genetic structuring was detected, indicating that the Grey Falcon population is effectively continuous across the species’ entire distribution, covering much of Australia’s arid/semi-arid zone. Our results indicate that the Grey Falcon should be managed as a single population and suggest conservation efforts that benefit the species at a local level should be good for the species as a whole. Future studies should employ next generation sequencing approaches, which may provide finer-scale information on the extent these birds move among breeding sites. Further research into the species’ ecology is also required to identify effective conservation measures.


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Phylogeography of the rare Australian endemic Grey Falcon Falco hypoleucos: implications for conservation



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