US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Molecular Ecology Notes (2007) 7, 284–286. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-8286.2006.01581.x


We identified four diagnostic microsatellite loci that distinguish spotted owls (Strix occidentalis), barred owls (Strix varia), F1 hybrids and backcrosses. Thirty-four out of 52 loci tested (65.4%) successfully amplified, and four of these loci (11.8%) had allele sizes that did not overlap between spotted and barred owls. The probability of correctly identifying a backcross with these four loci is 0.875. Genotyping potential hybrid owls with these markers revealed that field identifications were often wrong. Given the difficulty of identifying hybrids in the field, these markers will be useful for hybrid identification, law enforcement and spotted owl conservation.