Genetics and Lead Research

Our research team is involved in several collaborative projects ranging from mapping Bald Eagle and Greater Sage-grouse genetics to monitoring lead poisoning in raptors and corvids.

Mapping Bald Eagle Genetics to Inform Species Recoveries

Bald Eagles have made a remarkable comeback since their national decline in the middle decades of the 20th century. We are collaborating with geneticists at Oklahoma State University to help map the genetics of the population post-recovery in order to serve as a model for other species. This project is unique because it involves the work of TRC’s research and rehabilitation teams by using a DNA sample collected from a rehabilitated bald eagle, the oldest known west of the Mississippi river. Her DNA is being used to determine how one individual can impact the genetics of an entire population or species.

Scavengers and Lead Poisoning

Many raptors are at risk of lead poisoning from consuming shot animals, gut piles, and fishing tackle each year. We are defining risk and solutions by tracking how big-game hunting, varmint shooting, upland hunting and angling relates to lead exposure in eagles and hawks. In ravens, we are working to determine if there is a natural resistance to lead poisoning with an aim at formulating a chelation treatment for other birds affected by lead poisoning. Check out the Sporting Lead-Free initiative that we launched to encourage the use of voluntary lead-free ammunition and tackle in the field and promote the conservation ethics of our sporting communities

Greater Sage-Grouse Genetics

The small population of Greater Sage-grouse that occur across seven leks in the Jackson Hole Valley of Wyoming have been identified as genetically distinct from Greater Sage-grouse in the vicinity of Pinedale, Wyoming. We are conducting further genetic analysis of samples collected from these Sage-grouse to understand the degree of inbreeding and genetic isolation that is occurring within the population in the Jackson Hole Valley.

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