Conservation Genetics

, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 875–883 | Cite as

Streaked horned lark Eremophila  alpestris  strigata has distinct mitochondrial DNA

  • Sergei V. Drovetski
  • Scott F. Pearson
  • Sievert Rohwer


The Streaked Horned Lark (STHL; Eremophila  alpestris  strigata) is a federal candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. We evaluated the conservation status and level of genetic diversity of the STHL using the complete mitochondrial ND2 gene. We sampled 32 STHLs from the southern Puget Sound region, the Pacific coast, and Whites Island in the Columbia River of Washington, and additional 68 horned larks from Alaska, alpine and eastern Washington, Oregon, California, and Asia (outgroups). Our Maximum Likelihood analysis of 32 haplotypes identified three geographically concordant clades in Pacific coast states: Pacific Northwest (alpine and eastern Washington, Alaska), Pacific Coast (western Washington, California), and Great Basin (eastern Oregon). Each of the three clades was supported by bootstrap values ≥86%. The distance among them varied from 0.72 to 0.79% nucleotide divergence excluding intraclade variation. The relationship among the clades was not resolved. AMOVA also showed significant structuring of haplotypes among the three clades. Differences among clades accounted for 75.7% of sequence variation, differences among localities within clades accounted for 12.1%, and differences among individuals within localities accounted for the remaining 12.2%. Although STHL populations were closely related to the Californian sample, they appeared unique and isolated. All pairwise F st values involving the STHL samples were significant (except between themselves). STHLs appear to have remarkably low genetic diversity; all 32 STHLs shared the same haplotype. Even with small sample sizes, all other localities had multiple haplotypes. Because the STHL appears to be unique and isolated, and to have little genetic diversity our data suggest it should be a conservation priority.


genetic diversity population genetics status streaked horned lark taxonomy 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



We are grateful to the University of Washington Burke Museum, US National Museum of Natural History, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and University of Alaska Museum, for the tissue samples, and to the Burke Museum for access to voucher skins. Lori Harrmann and Mike Westberg provided laboratory assistance. This study was funded by the University of Washington Burke Museum, the University of Minnesota Bell Museum, the University of Alaska Anchorage, and US Fish and Wildlife Service grant 134101J023 to S.F.P. We thank Mark Hopey for assistance locating nests and collecting feather samples and Hannah Anderson for creating Figure 1. Scott Edwards and two anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments that greatly improved this manuscript.


  1. Akaike H (1974) A new look at the statistical model identification. IEEE Trans. Autom. Contr. 19:716–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altman B (1999) Status and conservation of grassland birds in the Willamette Valley. Unpublished report submitted to Oregon Dept. Fish and Wildlife, CorvallisGoogle Scholar
  3. Altman B (2000) Conservation strategy for landbirds in the lowlands and valleys of western Oregon and Washington, Version 1.0, Oregon–Washington Partners in FlightGoogle Scholar
  4. American Ornithologists’ Union (1957) Check-list of North American birds. 5th edn. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  5. Beason RC (1995) Horned Lark (Eremophila  alpestris). In: The Birds of North America (eds. Poole A, Gill F), No. 195. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists Union, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  6. Beauchesne S, Cooper J (2003) COSEWIC status report on the Horned Lark Stigata subspecies Eremophila alpestris strigata. Status report prepared for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. COSEWIC Secretariat c/o Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa, OntarioGoogle Scholar
  7. Behie WH (1942) Distribution and variation of the Homed Larks (Otocoris alpestris) of Western North America. Univ. Calif. Publ. Zool. 46: 205–316Google Scholar
  8. Bowles JH (1898) Notes on the Streaked Homed Lark. Osprey 3: 53–54Google Scholar
  9. Bowles JH (1900) Nesting of the Streaked Homed Lark. Condor 2: 30–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Browning M (1975) Distribution and occurrence of the birds of Jackson County and surrounding areas. U.S. Museum of Natural History, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell WR, Dawe NK, McTaggart-Cowan I, Copper JM, Kaiser GW, McNall MCE, Smith GEJ (1997) The birds of British Columbia, v. 3, Passerines, Flycatchers through Vireos. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, British ColumbiaGoogle Scholar
  12. Crawford RC, Hall HL (1997) Changes in the south Puget Sound Prairie Landscape. In: Dunn PV, Ewing K (eds) Ecology and Conservation of the South Puget Sound Prairie landscape. The Nature Conservancy, Seattle, Washington, pp. 11–15Google Scholar
  13. Dawson LW, Bowles JH (1909). The Birds of Washington. Occidental Press, Seattle, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  14. Department of the Interior (2001). Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; Review of plant and animal species that are candidates or proposed for listing as endangered or threatened, annual notice offindings on recycled petitions, and annual descriptions of progress on listing actions. Federal Register 66(210): 54808–54832Google Scholar
  15. Drovetski SV, Zink RM, Fadeev IV, Nesterov EV, Koblik EA, Red’kin YA, Rohwer S (2004b). Mitochondrial phylogeny of Locustella and related genera. J. Avian Biol 35: 105–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Drovetski SV, Zink RM, Mode NA, Fadeev IV, Nesterov EV, Koblik EA, Red’kin YA, Rohwer S (unpublished) Phylogeny and phylogeography of rosy-finches.Google Scholar
  17. Drovetski SV, Zink RM, Rohwer S, Fadeev IV, Nesterov EV, Karagodin IY, Koblik EA and Red’kin YaA, (2004a). Complex biogeographic history of a Holarctic passerine. Proc. R. Soc. London B 21: 545–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Excoffier L, Smouse P, Quattro J (1992) Analysis of molecular variance inferred from metric distances among DNA haplotypes: Application to human mitochondrial DNA restriction data. Genetics 131: 479–491PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Fraser DF, Harper WL, Cannings SG, Cooper JM (1999) Rare birds of British Columbia. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks Wildlife Branch and Resources Inventory Branch, Victoria, British Columbia.Google Scholar
  20. Fu Y-X (1997) Statistical tests of neutrality of mutations against population growth, hitchhiking and background selection. Genetics 147: 915–925PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Funk DJ and Omland KE (2003). Species-level paraphyly and polyphyly: frequency, causes, and consequences, with insights from animal mitochondrial DNA. Annu, Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 34: 397–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gabrielson IN, Jewett SG (1940). The Birds of Oregon. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OregonGoogle Scholar
  23. Gilligan J, Rogers D, Smith M, Contreras A (1994). Birds of Oregon. Cinculus Press, McMinnville, OregonGoogle Scholar
  24. Jewett SG, Taylor WP, Shaw WT, Aldrich JW (1953). Birds of Washington State. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  25. Johannessen CL, Davenport WA, Millet A, McWilliams S (1971) The vegetation of the Willamette Valley. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 61: 286–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. MacLaren PA, Cummins E (2000) Streaked Horned Lark Surveys in Western Washington. Report funded by USFWS.Google Scholar
  27. Mantel N (1967) The detection of disease clustering and a generalized regression approach. Cancer Res. 27: 209–220PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. McDonald JH and Kreitman M (1991). Adaptive protein evolution at the Adh locus in Drosophila. Nature 351:652–654CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Pearson SF (2003) Breeding phenology, nesting success, habitat selection, and census methods for the streaked homed lark in the Puget lowlands of Washington. Natural Areas Program Report 2003–2, Washington Department of Natural Resources., Olympia, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  30. Pearson SF, Hopey M (2004) Streaked Homed Lark Inventory, Nesting Success and Habitat Selection in the Puget Lowlands of Washington. Natural Areas Program Report 2004–1. Washington Department of Natural Resources. Olympia, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  31. Pearson SF, and M Hopey M (2005) Streaked Homed Lark nest success, habitat selection, and habitat enhancement experiments for the Puget lowlands, coastal Washington and Columbia River Islands. Natural Areas Program Report 2005–1. Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  32. Posada D, Crandall KA (1998) Modeltest: testing the model of DNA substitution. Bioinformatics 14: 817–818PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ramos-Onsins SE, Rozas J (2002) Statistical Properties of New Neutrality Tests Against Population Growth. Mol, Biol. Eva 19: 2092–2100PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Rodríguez F, Oliver JF, Marin A, Medina JR (1990) The general stochastic model of nucleotide substitution. J. Theor. Biol. 142:485–501PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Rogers RE (1999) The Streaked Horned Lark in Western Washington. Unpublished Report. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, Washington.Google Scholar
  36. Rogers RE (2000) The status and microhabitat selection of Streaked Horned Lark, Western Bluebird, Oregon Vesper Sparrow, and Western Meadowlark in Western Washington. Masters Thesis, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  37. Rozas J, Sánchez-DelBarrio JC, Messeguer X, Rozas R (2003). DnaSP, DNA polymorphism analysis by the coalescent and other methods. Bioinformatics 19: 2496–2497CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Schneider S, Roessli D, Excoffier L (2000) Arlequin ver. 2.000: A software for population genetics data analysis. Genetics and Biometry Laboratory, University of Geneva, Switzerland. Available at
  39. Stinson DW (2005). Washington State status report for the Mazama pocket gopher, streaked horned lark, and Taylor’s checkerspot. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, OlympiaGoogle Scholar
  40. Suckley G, Cooper JG (1860). The natural history of Washington Territory. Baillire Brothers, New York, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Towle JC (1982) Changing geography of the Willamette Valley woodlands. Oreg. Hist. Q. 83: 66–87Google Scholar
  42. Zink RM (2004) The role of subspecies in obscuring avian biological diversity and misleading conservation policy. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 271: 561–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergei V. Drovetski
    • 1
  • Scott F. Pearson
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sievert Rohwer
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageUSA
  2. 2.Washington Natural Areas Program, Washington Department of Natural ResourcesOlympiaUSA
  3. 3.Washington Department of Fish and WildlifeOlympiaUSA
  4. 4.Burke Museum and Department of BiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations