Submission Title

Using Parentage to Study the Reproductive Ecology of the Northern Saw-whet Owl

Session Number

PS1

Location

Graves Gym

Abstract Number

PS1-aa

Abstract

Aegolius acadicus, commonly known as the Northern Saw-whet owl, inhabits forested regions across much of North America (Godfrey 1986). Despite its widespread and abundant population, much remains unknown about the species due to its low nest site fidelity, small size, cryptic coloration, and nocturnality (Cannings 2008). From past studies, it has been hypothesized that the breeding biology of the Northern Saw-whet owl is dependent on prey and nest site abundance – with pairs mating monogamously when both conditions are low, and polygynously when both are high (Cannings 1993). This may be due to a lowered pressure for consistent biparental care in times of high resource availability. We wish to test this hypothesis by assigning parentage to all members of a population and connecting this data to documented abiotic and biotic conditions. To do so, we are in the process of screening microsatellite loci that were developed for other avian species to find a set that amplify reliably and are sufficiently polymorphic to assign genetic parentage.

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Apr 23rd, 10:45 AM Apr 23rd, 12:15 PM

Using Parentage to Study the Reproductive Ecology of the Northern Saw-whet Owl

Graves Gym

Aegolius acadicus, commonly known as the Northern Saw-whet owl, inhabits forested regions across much of North America (Godfrey 1986). Despite its widespread and abundant population, much remains unknown about the species due to its low nest site fidelity, small size, cryptic coloration, and nocturnality (Cannings 2008). From past studies, it has been hypothesized that the breeding biology of the Northern Saw-whet owl is dependent on prey and nest site abundance – with pairs mating monogamously when both conditions are low, and polygynously when both are high (Cannings 1993). This may be due to a lowered pressure for consistent biparental care in times of high resource availability. We wish to test this hypothesis by assigning parentage to all members of a population and connecting this data to documented abiotic and biotic conditions. To do so, we are in the process of screening microsatellite loci that were developed for other avian species to find a set that amplify reliably and are sufficiently polymorphic to assign genetic parentage.