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Blue-winged, golden-winged warblers not all that different

Cara J

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After over 10 years of trying to determine genetic differences between golden-winged and blue-winged warblers, researchers discovered some surprising information. In a study published in the journal Current Biology, a research team sequenced complete genomes of both birds and found they were 99.97 percent alike. This could have some implications on the conservation status of the golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), which has declined by 66 percent since 1968, according to the North American Bird Breeding Survey. The golden-winged warbler is listed as threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. In the U.S., however, the species isn’t federally protected although it has been proposed for listing in the past. There’s some confusion about federal protection due to hybridization with blue-winged warblers (Vermivora cyanoptera), says David Toews, a postdoctoral researcher Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology and co-lead author of the study. For a long time, Toews, his co-lead author Scott Taylor and their colleagues from the evolutionary biology group at the Lab of Ornithology tried to find a genetic marker that differed between the two warblers in order to develop a hybrid index for conservation managers. However, the researchers had difficulty finding those differences. In fact, a year and a half ago, [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/blue-winged-golden-winged-warblers-not-all-that-different/

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