Wednesday, August 16, 2006

ENV: Three Woodpeckers?

Unfortunately this, from the Smithsonian, is all i have on this right now. Will look for more info. . .

Genetic Study of Endangered Ivory-billed Woodpeckers

Ancient DNA was recently extracted and sequenced from National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) 80-150 year old specimens of endangered North American and Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpeckers (Campephilus principalis). The sequences were also compared to DNA sequences of the Imperial Woodpecker (Campephilus imperialis) of Mexico.

NMNH scientists Robert Fleischer and Carla Dove and colleagues began the project as a simple ?barcoding? effort to add the Ivory-billed Woodpecker sequence to the Barcode of Life Database (BoLD). In addition, they wanted to know whether a feather found in 1968 in Florida was really an Ivory-billed Woodpecker feather. It soon turned into a more interesting investigation about the evolutionary relationships of the woodpeckers themselves. Analysis of the DNA sequences revealed that the specimens represent three distinct genetic lineages that split from their ancestor in the mid-Pleistocene (about one million years ago). Each lineage, the Cuban and North American Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, and the Imperial Woodpecker, is likely a separate species. The DNA sequences from these woodpecker specimens provide an important resource for the identification of samples or remains of these critically endangered and charismatic woodpeckers.

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