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Genetic variation in three North American barn owl (Tyto alba) populations using DNA fingerprinting McLarty, Joanne Ruth


I studied the genetic diversity of a small population of common barn owls (Tyto alba) in British Columbia (BC), Canada. DNA fingerprinting was employed to assess the level of genetic variation in the BC population compared to two other barn owl populations in North America, California and Utah. Two different multilocus probes, Jeffreys' 33.15 and per, were used with the restriction enzyme Haelll. These probes yielded sufficient variation at minisatellite loci to assess the general level of relatedness both within and between populations. The number of scorable bands on each fingerprint was significantly higher when probed with per than when probed with Jeffreys' 33.15, but both probes resulted in similar band sharing patterns, and neither showed any apparent linkage. Band sharing between each pair of individuals on a gel was calculated as In^Kjif^ + nB),' where nA and wB are the number of bands in the fingerprints of individuals A and B, and nA B is the number of bands shared by A and B. Band sharing coefficients were significantly higher in the BC barn owl population than in the California or the Utah populations, indicating less genetic variation in the BC population compared to the other two. Between population band sharing was highest between Utah and California, reflecting more genetic similarity between those two populations. The results indicated that the genetic variation in the BC population is still within the range of other viable populations. Levels of organochlorine and PCB residues in barn owl livers also have dropped consistently since 1975 (Appendix 1). To conserve Canada's barn owls, it will be important to continue monitoring genetic variation in the BC population and to maintain barn owl habitat in the Fraser Valley.

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