Phylogeography of the Greater Prairie Chicken including the extinct Heath Hen (Past)

In this project we explored the phylogenetic relationships among subspecies and populations of the greater prairie chicken (Tympanucus cupido). The greater prairie chicken complex represents three subspecies, two extant and one extinct. The most widespread subspecies is the greater prairie chicken (T. cupido pinnatus) of the Midwestern U.S. The Attwater’s prairie chicken (T. cupido attwateri), formerly of the Gulf Coast, is now highly endangered and restricted to a small isolated population in Texas. The heath hen (T. cupido cupido), formerly of the Northeastern U.S., was extirpated from mainland North America by around 1870, with a remnant population persisting on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts until its final extinction in 1932. We elucidated levels and patterns of genetic differentiation within and among subspecies and populations of greater prairie chickens based on mtDNA sequence analysis. The results of this research provide answers to important evolutionary questions but are useful in addressing conservation and management issues. Collaborators included Eric Palkovacs (University of California, Santa Cruz) and George Amato (American Museum of Natural History). 


Palkovacs, E.P., A.J. Oppenheimer, E. Gladyshev, J.E. Toepfer, G. Amato, T. Chase, and A. Caccone. 2004. Phylogeography of the Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) Including the Extinct Heath Hen: Potential Implications for Conservation and Management. Molecular Ecology 13: 1759-1769.