THE ISSUE

  • American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) are declining and effective management requires identifying which populations are most vulnerable, where they are most limited, and how climate change will impact patterns of decline
  • Kestrels, and many other species, are shifting the timing and patterns of their migratory movements, which could make inferring population trends from migration-counts difficult

NEW METHODS TO UNCOVER MIGRATORY CONNECTIVITY

  • Historical methods of tracking migratory connectivity, such as long-term banding programs and attachment of small tracking devices can be limited by low recapture rates, and can be labor intensive or cost prohibitive
  • An alternative method is to develop high-resolution molecular markers that will allow us to sample a bird on the wintering grounds, or during migration, and use the DNA from a single feather to map that individual back to its breeding population of origin 

THE AMERICAN KESTREL GENOSCAPE PROJECT

The American Kestrel Genoscape Project is a large-scale collaborative effort to develop high-resolution molecular markers for creating a spatially explicit map of American Kestrel breeding populations. This map will allow us to sample a bird on the wintering grounds, or during migration, and use the DNA from a single feather to map that individual back to its breeding population of origin. This information will allow us to identify population-specific trends and migratory connectivity maps. Learn more about genoscapes here. This year we are asking for your help to collect 2 body feathers for DNA samples.

See our Get Involved page to learn how you can help with this exciting effort!

COLLABORATORS

The American Kestrel Genoscape project is a collaboration between Boise State University, HawkWatch International, The Peregrine Fund, St. Mary’s University, and UCLA with partners from Hawk Mountain, USFWS, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Texas Tech University, University of Northern British Columbia, Pacific University, and the Shenandoah Valley Raptor Study Area. Find more information about collaborators on our About Us page.