Sandhill Cranes in Colorado’s San Luis Valley: Exploring Field and Laboratory Technology for Improved Population Assessments

Research Project: 

RB00CNJ.30

Project Manager: 

Sara Oyler-McCance
A Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) grazing in a grass field. John J. Mosesso, USGS Gallery photo.
A Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) grazing in a grass field. John J. Mosesso, USGS Gallery photo.

There are principally two subspecies of sandhill cranes in North America, greater sandhill cranes that breed throughout the inter-mountain west, and Lesser sandhill cranes that breed in Siberia and Alaska. In route to the wintering grounds, these two subspecies mix at important stop-over sites in the San Luis Valley. The proportion of each of these two species in the San Luis Valley is unknown and this information represents a critical need for the management of these populations. This project aims to estimate the proportion of each subspecies by genotyping DNA from feathers collected in the San Luis Valley.