Population genetics of the Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis): Genetic monomorphism within isolated populations

Jennifer L. Bollmer, Noah K. Whiteman, Michelle D. Cannon, James C. Bednarz, Tjitte De Vries, Patricia G. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Because of their smaller size and isolation, island populations tend to be more divergent and less genetically variable than mainland populations. We collected DNA samples from nine Galápagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) island populations, covering the species' entire range. Neutral minisatellite DNA markers were used to calculate within-island genetic diversity and between-island genetic differentiation (FST). Typically, these markers mutate too quickly to be informative in such studies. However, in very small, isolated populations, concerns about high mutational rate are obviated by the relative force of genetic drift. Individuals within islands had the highest levels of reported genetic uniformity of any natural bird population, with mean within-population band-sharing similarity values ranging from 0.693 to 0.956, increasing with decreasing island size. Galapagos Hawks exhibit cooperative polyandry to varying degrees across islands; however, we did not find an association between degree of polyandry and genetic variability. Between-island FST values ranged from 0.017 to 0.896, with an overall archipelago value of 0.538; thus, most populations were genetically distinct. Also, we documented higher levels of genetic similarity between nearby populations. Our results indicated negligible gene flow among most Galapagos Hawk populations, and genetic drift has played a strong role in determining structure at these minisatellite loci.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1210-1224
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Buteo galapagoensis
  • Cooperative polyandry
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Galápagos Hawk
  • Genetic drift
  • Minisatellites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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