Conservation Genetics

, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 697–706 | Cite as

Genetically distinct island populations of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus)

  • Maria B. Kretzmann
  • N. Capote
  • B. Gautschi
  • J.A. Godoy
  • J.A. Donázar
  • J.J. Negro


The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is a species in decline throughout Europe, with the largest remaining breeding populations found in northern Spain. Iberian Peninsula populations of this species (about 1000 pairs) migrate to Africa in winter, while small populations in both the Canary and Balearic Islands (less than 40 pairs in each case) are apparently sedentary. We found that Egyptian vultures from both of these island groups were significantly differentiated from Iberian Peninsula populations (R ST = 0.065–0.129, p = 0.000–0.007), using nine microsatellite loci isolated in a related species, the bearded vulture. The greatest degree of genetic differentiation was observed between the two island groups (R ST = 0.279, p = 0.000). These island populations were more distinct from mainland groups than was a small sample of a well-defined separate subspecies from India (N. p. ginginianus; R ST = 0.083–0.091, p = 0.023–0.024). This implies that these two island populations have been isolated from peninsular populations for many generations, despite the long-distance migration capabilities of the species. In constrast, populations within the Peninsula were not differentiated from one another at these microsatellite loci (R ST = $-$0.004–0.007, p = 0.442–0.675). Introductions of Egyptian vultures from the larger northern breeding groups might therefore be appropriate in southern Spain, if necessary, but mainland birds should not be introduced to the islands if the genetic distinctiveness of these groups is to be preserved. Independent conservation plans are urgently required to protect these two island populations from extinction.

conservation genetics island populations microsatellites vultures 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria B. Kretzmann
    • 1
  • N. Capote
    • 2
  • B. Gautschi
    • 3
  • J.A. Godoy
    • 2
  • J.A. Donázar
    • 2
  • J.J. Negro
    • 2
  1. 1.Natural Sciences Division, Southampton CollegeLong Island UniversitySouthamptonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Applied Biology, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSICAvenida de Maria Luisa s/nSevillaSpain
  3. 3.Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190ZürichSwitzerland

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