Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Endangered Central American birds might avoid extinction

Researchers recently found that Harpy Eagles -- big birds that weigh up to 20 pounds and range from southeastern Mexico to northern Argentina -- have sufficient genetic diversity to bolster efforts to prevent extinction. Tests on 66 of the predatory birds in 12 countries revealed "high levels of mitochondrial genetic diversity," according to a press release from The Peregrine Fund.

Scientists from the Boise, Idaho-based Peregrine Fund and the University of Michigan led the study, the first to look at mitochondrial DNA in this study. TPF began a Harpy Eagle recovery program two decades ago, raising captive-bred eagles that were released into the wild and remain under scrutiny for reproductive and survival rates.

The peer-reviewed study recently appeared in Public Library of Science and is available online. A concise fact sheet about Harpy Eagle appears here.

Above, Peregrine Fund biologist Angel Muera works with a captive Harpy Eagle. Look at the size of that bird!

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Blogger OpposableChums said...

Certainly one of the coolest-looking raptors.

October 15, 2009 3:51 PM  

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