Investigation of Family Relationships in Broad-tailed Hummingbirds Using Molecular Methods

Research Task: 

RB00CNJ.17

Task Manager: 

Sara Oyler-McCance
this is a broad-tailed hummingbird picture by Marcus Martin
Broad-tailed hummingbird, photo by Marcus Martin

Based on strong circumstantial evidence on numerous occasions, it is believed that adult female broad-tailed hummingbirds (Selasphorus platycercus) and one or both of her recently-fledged young remain together for two or more weeks after fledging. Due to proximity of banding sites to nesting areas in Rocky Mountain National Park, it cannot be accurately determined how long a family unit may remain together after beginning migration. The literature on broad-tailed hummingbirds reveals that the duration of maternal care beyond the first day is not observed. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to determine whether groups of broad-tailed hummingbirds observed migrating together are family groups using DNA analysis. FORT geneticists will isolate a set of polymorphic microsatellite loci directly from the broad-tailed hummingbird. These markers will then be used to determine the relatedness of individuals trapped together in Rocky Mountain National Park. Genotyping is achieved by extracting DNA from a tail feather from each trapped bird. Managers can use this information to monitor levels of genetic variability in populations.

For more information contact:

Sara Oyler-McCance

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