Genetic structure in Iberian and Moroccan populations of the globally threatened great bustard Otis tarda: a microsatellite perspective

Horreo, J. L., Alonso, J. C., Palacín, C., & Milá, B. (2014). Genetic structure in Iberian and Moroccan populations of the globally threatened great bustard Otis tarda: a microsatellite perspective. Journal of Avian Biology 45(5): 507–513. doi:10.1111/jav.00401


Patterns of genetic structure and gene flow among populations help us understand population dynamics and properly manage species of concern. Matrilineal mtDNA sequence data have been instrumental in revealing genetic structure at the intraspecific level, but bi-parentally inherited markers are needed to confirm patterns at the genome level and to assess the potential role of sex-biased dispersal on gene flow, particularly in species where males are known to be the main dispersing sex. Here we use microsatellite loci to examine patterns of genetic structure across the range of the great bustard in Iberia and Morocco, an area representing 70% of the world population of this globally threatened species. We used population differentiation statistics and Bayesian analysis of population structure to analyse data from 14 microsatellite loci. These data provide greater resolution than mtDNA sequences, and results reveal the existence of three main genetic units corresponding to Morocco, the northeastern part of Spain, and the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. Our results, together with previous mtDNA data, confirm the genetic differentiation of the northern Africa population and the importance of the Strait of Gibraltar as a barrier to gene flow for both males and females, rendering the Moroccan population a separate management unit of high conservation concern.

Great Bustards (Otis tarda), Estremadura, Spain.

Great Bustards (Otis tarda), Estremadura, Spain (photo : Francesco Veronesi in Flickr, license: CC-nc-sa)

Genetic variability in the Eurasian Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)

Mori, A., Baldaccini, N. E., Baratti, M., Caccamo, C., Dessì-Fulgheri, F., Grasso, R., Nouira, S., Ouni, R., Pollonara, E., Rodriguez-Godoy, F.,Spena, M.T., Giunchi, D. (2014). A first assessment of genetic variability in the Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus. Ibis 156(3): 687–692. doi:10.1111/ibi.12164


The Eurasian Stone-curlew is a species of conservation concern in Europe. We investigate for the first time the extent of population structure among populations sampled from six geographical areas, representing four subspecies inhabiting the western part of the species’ distribution. Neither mitochondrial nor nuclear markers fully supported current subspecies boundaries. However, both markers support significant differentiation of the Canary Island populations from those sampled from the Mediterranean. Further work is needed to establish the taxonomic status of this potentially distinct Macaronesian taxon. More broadly, further genetic research is required to design and implement an effective conservation plan for this species.