North American Crane Working Group


Date of this Version


Document Type



Jones, K.L., F. Chavez-Ramirez, X. Galvez-Aguilera, L. Torella, and M.V. Ashley. Genetic assessment of non-migratory sandhill crane populations. In Chavez-Ramirez, F, ed. 2005. Proceedings of the Ninth North American Crane Workshop, Jan 17-20, 2003. Sacramento, California: North American Crane Working Group. Pp. 250.


Reproduced by permission of the NACWG.


Partial migration, the tendency of a segment of a population to remain resident while others migrate between their seasonal breeding and wintering ranges, is well known for many bird species. The objective of this study is to quantify the population structure and historical and recent gene flow patterns among non-migratory sandhills using microsatellite DNA genotyping of a large number of sandhills collected from six populations; and to assess if the population subdivisions are consistent with theories of partial migration. Our results indicate a complex web of gene flow within non-migratory populations, as well as between migratory and non-migratory populations. Gene flow from migratory populations to the non-migratory populations appears to follow two paths: from the Eastern Flyway Population to the Florida non-migratory population due to mixing on their common Florida wintering grounds; and additionally from the Mid-continent Population to non-migratory birds through direct contact in the Gulf Coastal regions of the non-migratory range. Additionally, the genetic data shows that the Cuban sandhill cranes are more genetically like that of the greater sandhill cranes of the Eastern Flyway Population. These data imply that the non-migratory populations may have originated as non-migratory extensions of migratory populations and reflects the result of partial migration reinforced by natal philopatry.