Genetic variation in the midcontinental population of sandhill cranes, Grus canadensis

Jessica L. Petersen, Richard Bischof, Gary L. Krapu, Allen L. Szalanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Three subspecies of sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) are recognized in the Midcontinental population, the lesser (Grus c. canadensis), Canadian (G. c. rowani), and greater (G. c. tabida). Blood samples collected on the population's primary spring staging area in Nebraska, U.S.A., were used to resolve the genetic relationship among these subspecies. Phylogenetic analysis of 27 G. canadensis, by DNA sequencing of a 675 bp region of the mtDNA, supports the subspecies designations of G. c. canadensis and G. c. tabida. G. c. rowani individuals were intermediate with each of the other two subspecies. Genetic divergence ranged from 6.5 to 14.5% between G. c. canadensis and G. c. tabida, 0.5 to 6.6% within G. c. canadensis, and 0.1 to 6.0% within G. c. tabida. Sufficient DNA for analysis was obtained from shed feathers indicating a source of genetic material that does not require the capture or sacrifice of the birds. Other genetic markers and methods, including satellite telemetry, are required for obtaining detailed information on crane distributions as needed to establish effective management units for the MCP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBiochemical Genetics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Genetic variation
  • Grus canadensis
  • Midcontinental population
  • MtDNA
  • Sandhill crane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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