Phylogeography of the Galápagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis): A recent arrival to the Galápagos Islands

Jennifer L. Bollmer, Rebecca T. Kimball, Noah Kerness Whiteman, José Hernán Sarasola, Patricia G. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Galápagos hawks (Buteo galapagoensis) are one of the most inbred bird species in the world, living in small, isolated island populations. We used mitochondrial sequence and nuclear minisatellite data to describe relationships among Galápagos hawk populations and their colonization history. We sampled 10 populations (encompassing the entire current species range of nine islands and one extirpated population), as well as the Galápagos hawk's closest mainland relative, the Swainson's hawk (B. swainsoni). There was little sequence divergence between Galápagos and Swainson's hawks (only 0.42% over almost 3 kb of data), indicating that the hawks colonized Galápagos very recently, likely less than 300,000 years ago, making them the most recent arrivals of the studied taxa. There were only seven, closely related Galápagos hawk haplotypes, with most populations being monomorphic. The mitochondrial and minisatellite data together indicated a general pattern of rapid population expansion followed by genetic isolation of hawk breeding populations. The recent arrival, genetic isolation, and phenotypic differentiation among populations suggest that the Galápagos hawk, a rather new species itself, is in the earliest stages of further divergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-247
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Buteo galapagoensis
  • Galápagos hawk
  • Minisatellite DNA
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Phylogeography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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